Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission | Annotated Tale

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Story of Lelha, The


THERE once lived a certain raja, who had three wives. The two elder had two sons each, and the younger only one, whose name was Lelha. [1] The four sons of the first two wives were very friendly with each other, being seldom separate, but they despised Lelha, and never permitted him to join them in any of their pastimes or sports.

               The raja had a plot of ground set apart for a flower garden, but there was nothing in it. One day a certain Jugi came to him, and said, "Oh! raja, if you fill your garden with all kinds of flowering plants, your whole city will appear enchanting." Having said this, the Jugi went to his home. The raja was greatly affected by what the Jugi had said, and was immediately seized with a fit of the sulks. There was an apartment in the palace set apart for the exclusive use of those who happened to be in that state of mind. Such an one shut himself up in this chamber until the fit wore off, or until he was persuaded to be himself again.

               The raja refused his evening meal, and as was his wont, when in this frame of mind, retired to the sulking apartment, and lay down. The two elder ranis having been informed of what had occurred, hasted to the raja, and said, "Oh! raja, why are you sulking?" He replied, "This morning a Jugi came to me and said, that if I planted flowering shrubs in my garden the whole city would appear enchanting. If any one will do this work for me, I will rise, if not, I shall remain here." The ranis then addressed him thus, "Oh! raja, rise up, and eat and drink." The raja replied, "Let the young men come to me, I will do as you desire." The two ranis then left, and calling their sons, sent them to their father. Coming into the presence of the raja they said, "Wherefore father are you sulking?" The raja replied, "If you plant flowers in my flower garden I shall be comforted, and shall leave my couch." They said, "Is it on this account you are distressed? We shall cause the garden to be filled with flowers in a short time." On receiving this assurance the raja left his bed, and partook of food, and was refreshed. Lelha's mother now appeared on the scene, and addressing the raja, said, "Wherefore, raja are you sulky?" He replied, "Who told you I was sulky?" She replied, "A shopkeeper gave me the information." Then the raja got angry, and ordered her to leave, but she said, "If you do not tell me why you are sulking I will not depart, am not I also your humble maidservant? Unless you tell me, I will not go, I will die here rather than leave." The raja relented, and related to her all the words of the Jugi. She then returned home.

               Her son Lelha entered the house soon after her arrival. He had been engaged in some field sports, and being wearied and hungry, said to his mother, "Give me some cooked rice." She was annoyed with him and said, "Although the raja is ill, your first cry is for boiled rice." Lelha on hearing this went to his father, and enquired what was wrong. But the raja flying into a rage scolded him, saying, "Go away Lelha. What do you want here? Never come near me again. Did not I build a house for your mother and you at the extreme end of the street, away from here? Be off, or I shall beat you." To which Lelha replied, "Oh! father raja, am not I also a son of yours? Let me be foolish or otherwise, still, I am your son, and unless you inform me of what has grieved you, I shall die rather than leave this." Then the raja told him also. He said, "It is because I do not see flowers in the garden." "Oh!" said Lelha, "Is that what distresses you?" He then left.

               The raja's four elder sons caused all manner of flowering shrubs and trees to be planted in the garden, and in a short time it was in a blaze of colour, so much so, that the whole city was as if lighted thereby.

               Just at this time, when every tree, shrub and plant was covered with blossom another Jugi, named Koema Jugi, came to the city and said to one and another, "You, the citizens of this city, are covering yourselves with renown, but if you attach hiras [2] and manis [3] to the branches, you will add renown to renown." The Jugi's words reached the raja, and he was so much affected by them, that he immediately began to sulk, and on being questioned by his two ranis, he replied, "Do you not remember the words of the Koema Jugi?" They said, "Yes, we remember. He said, 'if you place hiras and manis in this garden the whole country will be resplendent'." "On that account then, I am sulking, and if I do not see hiras and manis, I shall not partake of any food." At the raja's words the two ranis returned sorrowfully to their apartments.

               At that moment their four sons entered the house and asked for food. The ranis were annoyed, and said, "The raja, your father, is sulking, and you must have food and drink." On learning their father's state the youths were distressed on his account, and went to him weeping, and enquired why he was sulking. He related to them the words of Koema Jugi, and added, "Unless I see hiras and manis attached to the branches of the trees in my flower garden, I shall not rise from my couch." His four sons replied, "Is it for this reason you are grieving? We will search for, and bring them, and if we fail, then sulk again, and refuse your food, and die of hunger, and we will not prevent you, only listen to us this time and get up." The raja was persuaded to rise, and having partaken of food he was refreshed.


               The raja had planted flowering shrubs in his garden, but the Indarpuri Sadoms [4] ate up all the flowers as they appeared, and so he again began to sulk. He said, "I planted bushes, but I see no flowers. What reason is there for my remaining alive?" And going to the sulking chamber he lay down, and as usual refused to eat. Then there was confusion in the household, and running hither and thither. The two ranis went to him, but he was annoyed, and ordered them to leave, saying, "I will not rise, by your telling me," so they returned weeping, each to her own apartment.

               Just then their four sons returned from hunting, and demanded food. Their mothers were annoyed, and said, "You young gentlemen are hungry, and must have food, that the raja is sulking is nothing to you, if you are fasting." On hearing this the sons went to their father, and enquired, "Oh! father, wherefore are you sulking?" The raja replied, "Oh! my sons, I am sulking because I see no flowers in my garden. Unless I see flowers in my garden, I shall not remain in this world." His sons replied, "Give us three days, and if at the end of that time you see no flowers, then you may sulk." He was persuaded to rise, and having bathed, and partaken of food, he was refreshed.

               Just then Lelha arrived, and addressing the raja said, "Oh! raja, what ails you?" The raja on seeing Lelha was angry, and scolded him severely. He said, "Has Lelha come here? Drive him away at once." Lelha left without uttering another word.

               After three days the raja began again to sulk, because there were still no flowers to be seen in his garden. The Indarpuri Sadoms came about mid-night and ate up all the buds. The raja's four elder sons when watching could not remain awake for one hour, and so the Indarpuri Sadoms came nightly and devoured all the buds that should have burst into flower in the morning, so that not one solitary blossom was to be seen. For this reason the raja again began to sulk, and no one dared to say anything to him.

               At this juncture Lelha's mother went from her own house to a shop to buy rice. The shopkeeper refused to supply her. He said, "The raja is sulking, and she comes here to buy rice. I will not weigh it, so go." Lelha's mother went hastily home, and encountered Lelha returning from a stroll. Lelha asked for food. He said, "Oh! mother, give me cooked rice quickly." She rebuked him, and said, "The raja is sulking. The shopkeeper refused to give me rice, how can I give you food? I am a prey to grief, and here my young gentleman is hungry. Go to the raja."

               Lelha did as his mother ordered him, and went to the apartment where the raja was, and called several times, "Oh! father, get up." At length the raja asked, "Who are you? Do not irritate me. Go away at once." Lelha replied, "I am your humble slave and son, Lelha." His father said, "Wherefore have you come here? Lelha, Go home, or else I shall beat you. What do you want here? If you go, go at once, if not, I shall have you chastised." Lelha replied, "Because you, Oh! raja, are sulking. The shopkeeper in the bazaar refused to sell to my mother rice, saying, 'something is amiss with the raja, I cannot let you have it.'" The raja then said, "Go, and bring the shopkeeper here." To which Lelha replied, "Why are you sulking? If you do not tell me, it were better for me to die here. I cannot leave you. I have come here fasting, not having eaten anything to-day." The raja said, "Your four brothers have not been able to do anything, and what can I hope from telling you about it, Lelha?" Lelha replied, "It is still possible that I may accomplish something, but although I should not, yet I am a son of yours. Do tell me. If you die, I shall die also. We will depart this life together. I cannot return home." The raja then thought within himself, I will tell him, and let him go. If I do not do so, Lelha may die along with me. Then addressing Lelha, he said, "It is nothing child, only I see no flowers in my garden, and therefore I am sulking. Although your four brothers watched three nights, still I see no flowers." Lelha then said, "If my brothers watched three nights, see me watch one." The raja replied, "Very good my son, let us leave this apartment."

               The raja went to bathe, and Lelha going to the shopkeeper bought several kinds of grain, which he carried home and gave to his mother, saying, "Roast a seer of each, and cook some rice for me. I have succeeded in persuading my father to rise. He has bathed and dined, and is refreshed. He was sulking because he can see no flowers in his garden. It was with great difficulty that I prevailed upon him to get up." His mother said, "What does my Lord want with roasted grain?" Lelha replied, "Let me do with it as I chose, you prepare it. I will take it with me at night when I go to watch in the flower garden." His mother said, "Have you forgotten your brothers' threats to beat you?" Lelha replied, "My brothers may beat me, but no other person. What help is there for it?"

               At nightfall, Lelha, having supped, tied up in the four corners of his plaid four kinds of roasted grain, and entering the garden climbed up on a raised platform, and began his vigil.

               After a short time he untied one of his parcels of roasted grain, and began leisurely to eat it, one grain at a time. Just as he had consumed the last one, an Indarpuri Sadom descended from the East and alighted in the garden to browse upon the flowers. Lelha seeing it, crept noiselessly up, and laid hold of it, and at the same instant its rider, an Indarpuri Kuri, [5] exclaimed, "Hands off! Lelha. Hands off! Lelha. Touch me not." Lelha replied, to the Indarpuri Kuri, "Besides touching you, I will bind and detain you till morning. You have become bold. You have caused my father to fast; but I have captured you to-night. Where will you go?" "Let me go," she said, "I will bless you." Lelha rejoined, "You are deceiving me." The Indarpuri Kuri made answer, "I am not deceiving you. I shall give you whatever blessing you may desire. Place your hand upon my head, Lelha." He did so, and a lock of hair adhered to his hand, when he withdrew it. The Indarpuri Kuri then said, "When you desire anything, take that lock of hair into your hand, and say, Oh! Indarpuri Kuri, give me this or that, and instantly you shall receive it. Of a truth it shall be so. I shall never fail you." Lelha then released the Indarpuri Sadom, and it mounted up into the air, and he and his Indarpuri Rider vanished into space.

               By the time Lelha had eaten all the roasted grain from another corner of his plaid, another Indarpuri Sadom with his Indarpuri Kuri rider descended from the West. Lelha caught these as he had done the first. This Kuri was a younger sister of the other, and she gave a like blessing to Lelha before he released her horse.

               Lelha now began to eat his third parcel of roasted grain, and just as he had finished it he saw another Indarpuri Sadom with an Indarpuri Kuri rider descend from the North, and alight in the garden. Lelha also captured these. The rider was a younger sister of the last. She also gave Lelha a blessing, and was allowed to go.

               At cockcrow, Lelha, having eaten the last grain of his fourth parcel, looked up and beheld an Indarpuri Sadom with an Indarpuri Kuri rider descend into the garden from the North. She was the youngest of the sisters. Lelha crept stealthily up, and laid hold of the horse's mane. The Indarpuri Kuri then exclaimed, "Hands off! Lelha. Hands off! Lelha." Then Lelha replied, "You Lelha greatly this morning. It is almost dawn, where can you go to escape punishment?" Then the Indarpuri Kuri said, "Oh! Lelha, We are four sisters, daughters of one mother, I will give you a blessing." Lelha replied, "In this way three persons have fled. You also appear the same." The Indarpuri Kuri said, "We four sisters have one blessing. Place your hand upon my head, and release me." Lelha did so, and the Indarpuri Sadom on being liberated sailed off into the sky with his Indarpuri rider. Lelha tied the four locks of hair of the Indarpuri Kuris each in a corner of his plaid, as he had before done with the roasted grain. When the day fully dawned he returned to his home weeping, for his four brothers seeing the bushes laden with blossom were envious of him, and had hurled him headlong to the ground from off the raised platform on which he sat.

               On reaching home his mother said to him, "You see your brothers have beaten you. I warned you against going." Lelha replied, "What help is there for it? My brothers beat me. No one else did. I must bear it." His mother said, "Then, why do you let others know?"

               In the morning the raja said, "Last night Lelha was watching. I will go and take a look at the garden." He went and found a perfect sea of blossom, the sight of which almost overcame him.

               It so happened that as the raja gazed upon the fairy scene around him, Koema Jugi turned up, and addressing the raja said, "You are lost in wonder, but if you hang hiras and manis on the branches the whole country will be resplendent. Then your wonder and amazement will be increased twentyfold."


               The raja's garden was without an equal in the world, but the words of Koema Jugi had caused him to become discontented with it, and because there were neither hiras nor manis hanging from the branches he, as before, began to sulk. They reasoned with him saying, "Do not grieve over it. We will bring hiras and manis." So he rose, and having bathed partook of some refreshment.

               About this time Lelha's mother went to a shop to purchase food. On seeing her the shopkeeper said, "Something is amiss with the raja, and she is hungry, and comes here giving annoyance. Go away. I will not weigh anything for you." So she returned home empty-handed. As she entered the house she encountered Lelha just returned from hunting, who said, "Oh! mother, give me cooked rice." His mother replied, "Something is wrong with the raja, and here my young lord is fasting, and cries for food. He is greatly concerned about his own affairs."

               Lelha went at once to the raja, and enquired "What ails you, father?" The raja replied, "Is there anything ailing me? Has Lelha come here? I will beat him shortly." Lelha said, "Do with me what you please. Why are you sulking? If you do not tell me, although it should cost me my life, I will not leave, rather slay me here at once." The raja thought within himself, "He annoys me, I will tell him to get rid of him." So he said, "Your brothers have gone in search of hiras and manis, and it is because I do not see the trees in my garden adorned with these precious stones that I am sulking. Lelha said, "I will also go." His father said, "Do not go child." But Lelha was determined, and disregarded his father's command.

               Lelha went to the bazaar and purchased rice and dal, and his mother when she saw him bringing them home with him, said, "What is wrong? You are completely out of breath." Lelha replied, "My brothers have gone to search for hiras and manis, and I also am busy preparing to follow them." She tried to dissuade him saying, "Although the mean fellows beat you, still you will not keep away from them." Lelha quickly replied, "What help is there for it, mother? Let my brothers beat me or not, what is that to me? I must bear it all." So his mother prepared food, and Lelha, having partaken of it, set out.

               He went to the stable, and saddled the lame horse, as his brothers had taken away the good ones, and mounting rode to the outskirts of the city. He then dismounted, and turned the lame horse loose, and went into the raja's flower garden, and said, "Oh! Indarpuri Kuri, give me a horse instantly. My brothers have left me behind, and gone I know not where. Give me such a horse as will enable me to reach them at once." Immediately a horse was at his side, and in a few seconds he was in sight of his brothers. He then alighted from his horse, and said "Oh! Indarpuri Kuri, I return your horse," and instantly it disappeared, and he overtook his brothers on foot.

               When his brothers saw him, they said, "He has overtaken us." Some of them said, "Catch him and beat him," others said, "No, let him alone, he will do our cooking. We can go in search of hiras and manis, and leave him to guard our camp. Come let us push on, we have now got a good guard for our camp." This pleased all, and they said, "It is now evening, let us pitch our camp for the night." They did so, and Lelha soon had supper ready, of which having partaken they all retired to rest.

               In the morning Lelha again acted as cook, and while it was yet early set breakfast before his brothers, and they having eaten, mounted their horses, and went in search of hiras and manis. They were now a month's journey distant from their own home, and the raja of the country in which they were, had just opened a new bazaar. It was a large and beautiful bazaar, and an Indarpuri Kuri had a stall it. This Indarpuri Kuri had given out, that whoever would go and come twelve kos seven times within an hour should be her husband.

               The four sons of the raja, who had come in search of hiras and manis hearing this said, "Some one from amongst us four brothers must marry this girl. Let us exercise our horses, it is possible that some one of them may do the distance in the specified time." They had left home in search of hiras and manis, and now were scheming to secure the Indarpuri Kuri as the wife of one of them. So they returned to camp, and sitting down began to discuss the subject. They said, "If our horses are well exercised, no doubt, but that they will be able to run the distance in the time. Therefore, let us diligently train our horses, so that they may be able to accomplish the task."

               While they were thus engaged, Lelha said, "What is it, brothers, that you are discussing?" His brothers rebuked him, saying, "Why are you eavesdropping? We will beat you." They did not, however, beat him, as they feared he would return home, and leave them without a cook. So he cooked the supper and set it before them, and when they had eaten, they retired to rest.

               In the morning Lelha again prepared the food, and his four brothers having breakfasted, mounted and rode off to the bazaar, and there exercised their horses. After they had left Lelha collected all the brass vessels, and what other property there was, and carefully hid them away. Then he called to the Indarpuri Kuri, "Oh! Indarpuri Kuri, give me a horse," and instantly, just such a horse as he desired stood beside him. He mounted and galloping away soon overtook his brothers. He saluted them, but they did not recognize him. He said to them, "Wherefore, brothers, have you brought your horses to a standstill? Make them race." They replied, "We were waiting for you. We are tired. It is your turn now." Lelha immediately switched up his horse, and away it flew at such a pace, that it could scarcely be seen. That day his horse ran twelve kos there and back three times within an hour. At the end of the race soldiers tried to lay hold of Lelha's horse, but he called out, "Do not touch him. He will not allow you to lay a finger on me." The soldiers said, "The raja has given orders, that the horse that ran three, or five, or seven times is to be brought before him." Lelha replied, "Go, and tell the raja, that the horse bites, so we could not stop him. The raja will not be displeased with you." He then rode away to the camp, and having returned the horse to the Indarpuri Kuri he began to prepare the evening meal, which was ready by the time his four brothers arrived.

               After supper they began to talk over the events of the day, wondering who owned the horse that had run so well. Lelha drew near, and said, "What is it, brothers, that you are talking about?" Some said, "Beat him, what has he got to do listening?" Others said, "Do not beat him, he cooks for us." So the matter ended, and all lay down for the night.

               In the morning Lelha again prepared the food, and his brothers having breakfasted, mounted their horses, and rode off to the bazaar, where they raced as usual. After they had gone, Lelha gathered all their property together, and hid it as he had done on the day previous. Then, mounting an Indarpuri Sadom, he followed his brothers, and on coming up with them saluted them, but they did not recognize him as their brother. Then a conversation similar to that of the previous day passed between Lelha and his brothers. This time Lelha's horse ran the distance, there and back, five times within the hour. The raja's soldiers again attempted to stop Lelha's horse, but he told them that it was in the habit of biting, so they allowed him to pass, and he galloped off to the camp, and returning the horse to the Indarpuri Kuri began to prepare the evening meal. When his brothers arrived Lelha set food before them, and they ate and drank. After they had supped they sat and talked about the wonderful horse, and its feat that day. Lelha again enquired what they were talking about, but they rebuked him saying, "Do not listen. It is not necessary for you to know what we are speaking about." They all then retired for the night.

               Early next morning Lelha set about preparing breakfast, and his brothers, having partaken of it, set out for the bazaar. After their departure Lelha gathered everything together, and hid them as before, and then called upon Indarpuri Kuri for a horse. The horse came, and Lelha mounted and galloped after his brothers. On overtaking them he saluted, and then said, "Wherefore, brothers, do you stand still? Race your horses." They replied, "It is your turn now. We have run, and our horses are tired." Lelha then started his horse, and it ran twelve kos there, and twelve kos back, seven times within the hour. The raja's soldiers again attempted to capture Lelha's horse, but he prevented them, and so returned to the camp. When he had returned the horse to the Indarpuri Kuri he resumed his office of cook, and had supper ready by the time his brothers returned. They sat down together, and began to discuss the wonderful performance of the horse which had that day done the distance seven times in one hour. Lelha again enquired, "What is it that you are talking about, brothers?" Some one said, "Beat him. He has no right to be listening," but another said, "Do not beat him, he cooks our food." When the four brothers were tired talking Lelha set supper before them, and having supped, they lay down to sleep.

               Next morning Lelha cooked the breakfast as usual, and his brothers having partaken of it, mounted their horses, and rode off to the bazaar. After they had left Lelha put everything out of sight, as usual. Then he desired the Indarpuri Kuri to give him a horse, and having mounted, he followed his brothers, and on coming near saluted them as before, but again they failed to recognize him.


               On the seventh day Lelha again followed his brothers to the bazaar. He begged the Indarpuri Kuri to give him a horse that would do the distance there and back seven times within the hour, and at the end would fall down dead, and also to have another horse ready for him to mount. The Indarpuri Kuri gave him his desire and he rode off to the bazaar, and again saluted his brothers, and at the same time pushed his horse close up to them. They called out, "Keep your horse back, he will crush us." Lelha then enquired why they were standing still. They replied, "We were waiting for you." So Lelha put his horse to the gallop, and did the distance there and back seven times within an hour. On his return the last time the soldiers attempted to lay hold of the horse, but Lelha said, "Let him alone, I will go myself." At the same instant his horse fell, and he leapt from it, and having returned it to the Indarpuri Kuri, he mounted the other, and rode from the race course to the bazaar, and was united in wedlock to the Indarpuri Kuri.

               After the marriage he informed his bride that he was in search of hiras and manis for his father's flower garden. She informed him, that lying on the breast of her elder sister, who had been sleeping for twelve years, was a large quantity of hiras. "To obtain them you must first," she said, "buy two bundles of grass, two goats, and a pair of shoes, and make two ropes each two hundred cubits long. My sister is guarded by an elephant, a tiger, and a dog. On entering you will first encounter the elephant, and you must throw him a bundle of grass. A little farther on you will meet the tiger, you must give him a goat. Then you will see the dog, and you must throw him a shoe. When you are returning you must do the same. Throw a shoe to the dog, a goat to the tiger, and a sheaf of grass to the elephant. You must lose no time in possessing yourself of the hiras you will find on my sister's breast. If you delay, her army may take you prisoner." She also said, "My sister's house is situated on an island in a large lake, and you can only reach it by hiring a boat. The door of her house is a large heavy stone, which you must remove before gaining an entrance. On the island there is a Sinjo tree, [6] with branches on the North side, and on the South. On the branches of the South side there are the young of hiras and manis, but on those of the North side there is nothing. On the South side there are five branches, and within the fruit there are manis. Do not forget this. The large hira, which glitters on my sister's breast, is the mother hira." Just as she concluded the foregoing instructions the cock crew, and she added, "See that you remember all I have told you."

               Then Lelha left his bride to return to his brothers. As he went he remembered that they would be sure to abuse him for having been absent, so he collected a large number of shells, and stringing them together, hung them round his neck, and went dancing to the camp. When his brothers saw him, in the dress of a merryandrew they rebuked him severely.


               Lelha's excuse for his absence was as follows. He said, "You, my brothers, always leave me here alone in the camp. Yesterday several shepherds came, and forcibly carried me away. They kept me awake all night. They tied these shells round my neck and made me dance. They also made me drive cattle round and round. I had no rest all night. They also shewed me hiras and manis."

               Lelha's brothers eagerly enquired, "Where did you see the hiras and manis? Come, show us the place at once." Lelha replied, "We must first buy food for the hiras and manis." So they went to the bazaar to buy food for the hiras and manis. Lelha first bought two goats, and his brothers abused him, and said, "Will hiras and manis eat these?" Some one of them said, "Slap him." Another said, "Do not slap him, they may perhaps eat them." Then he bought a pair of shoes, at which again they reviled him. Then he bought two ropes, when they again reviled him. Lastly he purchased two bundles of grass, and having provided these necessary articles, they went and hired a boat. The horses of the four brothers were dead, so they had to proceed on foot to where the boat lay.

               After sailing for some time they reached an island, and landed. They quickly found the house of the Indarpuri Kuri. It was closed by a large stone lying over the entrance. Lelha ordered his brothers to remove it, but they were displeased and said, "How do you expect to find hiras and manis under this stone." Lelha said, "Truly, my brothers, they are under the stone." He pressed them to attempt the removal of the stone, so they, and others to the number of fifty tried their strength but the stone seemed immovable. Then Lelha said, "Stand by, and allow me to try." So putting to his hand, he easily removed it, and revealed the entrance to the mansion of the Indarpuri Kuri. His brothers were so astounded at the strength he displayed that they lost the power of speech.

               Lelha then said to his brothers, "Take one of these ropes, and bind it round me, and lower me down, and when you feel me shaking the rope, then quickly pull me up. I go to find hiras." His brothers quickly bound the rope round his body, and he, taking the goats, the pair of shoes, and the bundles of grass, descended.

               A short distance from where he reached the ground, he found a door, which was guarded by an elephant bound by the foot to a stake. To him he threw a bundle of grass and passed on. At the next door he found a tiger, likewise chained, and as he approached, it opened its jaws as if to devour him. To it, he gave a goat, and was allowed to pass. At the third door was a dog. He threw a shoe to it, and when the dog was engaged biting it, he passed through. Then he saw the hira sparkling upon the bosom of the sleeping Indarpuri Kuri. Going near, he snatched it up, and fled. The dog, however, barred his exit but he threw the other shoe to it, and passed on. The tiger had devoured the goat he had given to it, and was now alert. To it he gave the other goat, and hurried on. The elephant then opposed him, but the remaining bundle of grass was sufficient to divert his attention, and he passed through the last door. Then violently shaking the rope his brothers speedily hauled him up.

               Then they went to their boat, and rowed to another part of the island, where the Sinjo tree grew. They all climbed the tree, but Lelha plucked the five fruits on the branch to the South, while his brothers plucked a large number from the North side.

               They then returned to their boat and rowed back to the place from which they had started. From there they went to the house of Lelha's bride. When she heard of their arrival she ordered refreshments to be prepared for them. Her servants also all came, and gave Lelha and his brothers oil, and sent them to bathe. On their return from bathing, their feet were washed by servants, and they were then taken into the house.

               After they were seated Lelha's brothers began to whisper to each other, saying, "We do not know of what caste these people are, to whose house he has brought us to eat food. He will cause us to lose caste." Lelha heard what they were saying, and in explanation said, "Not so, brothers. This is my wife's house." They replied, "It is all right then." So they ate and drank heartily, and afterwards prepared to return home.


               The journey was to be by boat. Lelha sent his brothers on ahead in one boat, and he and his wife followed in another. There was a distance of two or three kos between the boats.

               Lelha's brothers as they sailed along came to a certain ghat at which a raja was bathing. He was raja of the country through which they were passing. He demanded from Lelha's brothers to know what they had in their boat. They replied, "We have hiras and manis with us." Then the raja said, "Shew them to me. You may be thieves." They replied, "No, they are inside these Sinjo fruits." The raja said, "Break one, I wish to see what they are like." So the brothers broke one, but nothing was found in it. Then the raja called his soldiers, and ordered them to bind the four brothers. So the soldiers seized and bound them, and carried them off to prison. Just then Lelha's boat arrived. He was in time to see his brothers pass within the prison doors. Having seen the four brothers in safe custody the raja returned to the bathing ghat, and seeing Lelha he demanded to know what he had in his boat. Lelha answered, "We have hiras and manis as our cargo." The raja then said, "Shew them to me, I would fain look upon them." Lelha said, "You wish to see hiras and manis without any trouble to yourself. If I show you them, what will you give me in return? There are hiras and manis in this Sinjo fruit." The raja replied, "Those who came before you deceived me. I have no doubt, but that you will do so also." Lelha said, "What will you give me? Make an offer, and I shall shew you them at once." The raja replied, "I have one daughter, her I will give to you, and along with her an estate, if there are hiras and manis in that Sinjo fruit, and if there are none in it, I will keep you prisoner all your lifetime." Lelha immediately broke one of the Sinjo fruits, and five hiras and manis rolled out. When the raja saw it he was confounded, but what could he do? According to his promise, he gave him his daughter and an estate.

               The marriage ceremony being over, Lelha was invited to partake of the raja's hospitality, but he refused, saying, "If you set my brothers at liberty I shall eat, but not unless you do so." So the brothers were released, and taken to the bath. After they had bathed, their feet were washed, and they were led into the palace to the feast.

               The brothers, after they were seated, began to whisper to each other, saying, "Whose house is this? Of what caste are the people? Does he wish to make us lose our caste?" But Lelha reassured them by saying, "Not so, my brothers. I have espoused the raja's daughter." Hearing this they were relieved, and all enjoyed the marriage feast.


               Then they made preparations to continue their journey. Lelha again sent his four brothers first, and he followed with his two wives.

               After a sail of a few hours they entered the territory of another raja, and came upon his bathing ghat. The raja was bathing there at the time, and the boat passing, he enquired what her cargo was. The brothers answered, "We have hiras and manis on board." The raja said, "I would see them." They replied, "They are in the boat following us." The raja was displeased with their answer, and ordered them to be seized as vagrants.

               Lelha's boat came alongside the bathing ghat just as his four brothers were led off to prison, and the raja seeing it, asked Lelha what cargo he carried. Lelha replied, "Our cargo is hiras and manis." The raja begged Lelha to shew them to him, but he refused saying, "What will you give for a sight of them? Promise something, and you can see them." The raja said, "Of a truth, if you can shew me hiras and manis I will give you my daughter. I have one, a virgin, her I will give you, and I will also confer upon you an estate."

               Then Lelha, seizing a Sinjo fruit, broke it, and out rolled five hiras and manis, which when the raja saw he marvelled greatly. He honourably fulfilled his engagement, and Lelha's marriage with his daughter was celebrated forthwith.

               The wedding over Lelha was conducted to the bath, and afterwards invited to a banquet; but he declined saying, "So long as you detain my brothers in confinement, I cannot partake of your hospitality." So they were brought to the palace, and their feet bathed, and then ushered into the banqueting room. After they were seated they began to whisper to each other, "What caste do these people belong to, with whom he expects us to eat? Does he intend to make us break our caste?" Lelha hearing them, said, "Not so, my brothers. This is my father-in-law's house." Thus were their doubts removed, and they ate and drank with much pleasure.


               The journey homewards was resumed in the morning, the boats in the same order as previously.

               Lelha's four brothers were envious of his good fortune, and on the way they talked about him, and decided that he must be put to death. They said, "How can we put him out of the way? If we do not make away with him, on our return home, he will be sure to secure the succession to our father's kingdom." Having come to this conclusion the next thing was, how could it be accomplished, for Lelha was far more powerful than they were. It was only by stratagem that they could hope to accomplish their purpose, so they said, "We will invite him to a feast and when he stands with a foot on either boat, before stepping into ours, we will push the boats apart and he will fall into the river and be drowned. We must get his wives to join in the plot, for without their aid we cannot carry it into execution." During the day they found means to communicate with Lelha's wives. They said to them, "We will make a feast on our boat. Make him come on board first, and when he has a foot on each boat you push yours back, and we will do the same to ours, and he will fall into the water, and be drowned. We are the sons of a raja, and our country is very large. We will take you with us and make you ranis." Lelha's wives pretended to agree to their proposal; but they afterwards told him all. They said, "Do as they wish, but you will not be drowned. We will remain faithful to you, and you will reach home before us."

               So the four brothers prepared a sumptuous feast, and the boats were brought close to each other to enable Lelha and his wives to go on board. One of Lelha's wives tied a knot on his waist cloth, as a token that they would remain true to him. He then preceded them in going into the other boat, and just as he had a foot on each gunwale, the boats were pushed asunder, and Lelha fell into the water. Having thus got rid, as they thought, of Lelha, the brothers made all possible speed homewards.


               At the bottom of the river a bell sprang into existence, and Lelha was found lying asleep in it. Then he awoke and sat up, and loosening the knot which his wife had tied on his waist cloth, said, "Oh! Indarpuri Kuri, give me at once food and drink, tobacco and fire," and on the instant his wants were supplied. So he ate and drank, and was refreshed. Then he prepared his pipe, and when he had lit it he said, "Oh! Indarpuri Kuri, give me a fully equipped horse that will carry me home before the tobacco in this pipe is consumed." The last word had scarcely escaped his lips when a horse stood beside him. It was a fierce animal, of a blue colour, and no fly could alight on its skin. It was fully equipped, and impatient to start. Lelha, still smoking his pipe, mounted, and his steed at one bound cleared the river, although it was seven or eight kos broad, and flying like the wind, landed him at home before the tobacco in his pipe was consumed.

               The hiras and manis were in the possession of Lelha's wives. His brothers wheedled them into giving them up, saying they will be safer with us.

               Lelha went to his mother's house and said to her, "Tell no one of my being here." He had alighted from his horse on the outskirts of the city, and returned it to the Indarpuri Kuri.

               A period of ten days elapsed before Lelha's brothers and his wives arrived. The latter declined to accompany the former at once to the raja's palace. They said, "Let your mothers come, and conduct us, as is usual when a bride enters her husband's house." The two elder ranis then came, and the four sons went to the raja's flower garden and hung the hiras and manis on the branches of the trees, and the whole countryside was instantly lighted up by the sheen of the precious stones. The saying of the Koema Jugi was fulfilled to the letter.

               Lelha also sent his mother to welcome his wives, but when the elder ranis saw her coming, they reviled her and drove her away. They would not permit her to come near. She returned home weeping. "You told me," she said, "to go and welcome your wives, and I have been abused. When will you learn wisdom?" Lelha ran into the house, and brought a ring, and giving it to his mother, said, "Take this ring, and place it in the lap of one of them." She took the ring, and gave it to one of Lelha's wives, and immediately they all rose, and followed her laughing, to their new home.

               The elder ranis went and informed their sons of what had happened, but they said, "They are Lelha's wives. What can we do?"


               The Indarpuri Kuri whom Lelha had robbed of her hira now awoke, and at once missed her precious jewel. She knew that Lelha had stolen it from her, and summoning her army to her standard marched upon Lelha's father's capital, to which she laid siege, and before many hours had elapsed, the raja was a prisoner in her hands.

               This Indarpuri Kuri said to him, "Will you give up the hiras and manis, or will you fight?" The raja sent the following message to his four sons, "Will you fight to retain possession of the hiras and manis, or will you deliver them up?" They were afraid, so they gave answer, "We will not. Lelha knows all about the hiras and manis. We do not."

               The raja then sent and called Lelha, and enquired, "Will you shew fight, Lelha, or will you give up the hiras and manis?" Lelha replied, "I will fight. I will not part with the hiras and manis. I obtained them only after much painful toil, so I cannot deliver them up. Ask them to agree to delay hostilities for a short time, but inform them that Lelha will fight."

               Lelha hurried to the further end of the garden, and taking the hair of the first Indarpuri Kuri in his hand said, "Oh! Indarpuri Kuri. Give me an army four times stronger than the one brought against me, so that I may make short work of my enemies." Immediately an army of 44,000 men stood in military array, awaiting his orders. The two armies joined battle, and Lelha discomfited the host of the Indarpuri Kuri, and she herself became his prize. She became his wife, and returned no more to her cavernous home in the solitary island. Lelha thus became the husband of four wives.

               Then the raja called his five sons together and said, "In my estimation Lelha is the one best qualified to became raja of this kingdom. I therefore resign all power and authority into his hands." Lelha replied, "Yes, father, you have judged righteously. My brothers have caused me much distress. First, they pushed off the raised platform in your flower garden, but of that I did not inform you. Then they caused me, who was the finder of the hiras and manis, to fall into the river. You saw how they refused to fight, and threw all the responsibility upon me. They have used me spitefully. They have tried to make a cat's paw of me."

               So Lelha was raja of all the country, and his brothers were his servants. One was in charge of Lelha's pipe and tobacco, another ploughed his fields, and the other two had like menial offices assigned to them.



[1] Lelha in Santali means foolish.

[2] Diamonds.

[3] A mythical gem, said to be found in the heads of certain snakes.

[4] Celestial horses.

[5] Celestial Maiden.

[6] Ægle Marmelos, Correa.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Story of Lelha, 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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