Story type: Literature
Once there was a Rájá called Hámánsá Rájá. He had a son, named Gursan Rájá, who married Kheláparí Rání, the daughter of Gulábsá Rájá. After the wedding Gursan Rájá brought her home to his father’s house.
One day Gursan Rájá came home from hunting, very very tired and thirsty. It was about twelve or one o’clock in the day. He asked Kheláparí Rání to fetch him some water, and while she went for it he fell asleep. When she came back she found him still sleeping, and because he was so tired he slept all the afternoon and all night, and never woke till the next morning. His wife stood by him all the time holding the water in a brass cup. When he woke and found she had stood there all the afternoon and all night he was very sorry, and asked God to forgive him, and to give his wife whatever she wished for, no matter what it might be. So Kheláparí wished that whatever happened in any country, she might know of it at once of herself without any one telling her, no matter how far away the country might be.
One day Kheláparí Rání went to draw water from the tank, and by the tank sat an old man, the fakír Shekh Faríd. He said to the Rání, “Give me a little water to drink.” “I will,” she said, “only drink it quickly, for my father’s house is on fire, and I am going to put it out.” “How far off is your father’s country?” asked Shekh Faríd. “About twenty miles,” answered Kheláparí. “Then how can you know his house is on fire!” said Shekh Faríd; “I have been a fakír for twelve years, and for twelve years neither ate nor drank, and yet I do not know what happens twenty miles away.” “But I know,” she answered. “Leave your water-jar here,” he said, “and go and see if the house really is on fire, and I will not drink till you return to me.”
So off went Kheláparí Rání to her father’s country, and when she got there his house was burning, and she stayed till the fire was put out, and then returned to the tank where she left the fakír. “Is it true,” he asked, “that your father’s house was on fire?” “Quite true,” she answered. The fakír wondered. “How could she know it when the fire was twenty miles off?” he said to himself, and he determined to go to Gulábsá Rájá’s country to see if the Rání had told him the truth.
He went by a roundabout road, as he did not know the way, so it took him three or four days to get there. When he did, he asked some villagers if there had been a fire at their Rájá’s house. “Yes, a few days ago there was,” they answered. So the fakír, still more astonished, decided he would go back to Hámánsá Rájá’s palace and ask Kheláparí Rání how it came to pass that she was wiser than Shekh Faríd.
As he was returning, he met a bullock-cart laden with bags of sugar, and he asked the driver what the bags contained. The driver was put out because his bullocks would not go on quickly, and he was tired with beating and goading them, so he said crossly, “It’s ashes.” “Good,” said Shekh Faríd, “let it be ashes.” When the cartman got to the bazar, and went to make over the sugar to the merchant who had sent him for it, he found all his bags full of ashes, nothing but ashes. He was in a great state of mind, for a good deal of money had been paid for the sugar, and he was a poor man. So he went back to Shekh Faríd and fell down at his feet, saying, “I am a poor, poor man. My sugar is turned to ashes. Do make the ashes sugar again.” “Good,” said the fakír; “go home, and you will find sugar, and next time you are asked what you have in your cart, tell the truth and not lies.” The cartman went home, and when he saw his sugar was sugar once more, and no longer ashes, he was very, very glad.
One of his brother-villagers thought, “How pleasant it would be to become a fakír and do such things myself! I will go to this fakír and learn from him to be a fakír too.” So he went after Shekh Faríd and found him walking along the road, and he followed him. Now Shekh Faríd knew at once what this man wanted, so as they passed a heap of clay bricks, he said, “O God, let it be thy pleasure to give me power to turn these clay bricks into gold.” Instantly they became gold, and Shekh Faríd walked on; but the villager took up two of the bricks and put one under each arm, and then followed the fakír. Suddenly Shekh Faríd turned round, and said to him, “You have two clay bricks under your arms.” The man looked, saw it was true, and threw them away. Then Shekh Faríd said to him, “You steal bricks, and yet wish to be a fakír?” The man was ashamed, and went back to his village.
Shekh Faríd continued his journey and got to Hámánsá Rájá’s country; but when he got there he found Kheláparí had gone to another country for a little while, so he never saw her, nor found out how it was that she knew what happened twenty miles off.
In a jungle in Hámánsá Rájá’s country he met a man, called Fakír-achand, and his wife, who were very poor. They were going to bury their only son, and were crying bitterly. Shekh Faríd asked them, “Would you like your son to be alive again?” “Yes,” they said. “Will you give him to me, and I will bring him to life, and then he shall return to you?” said Shekh Faríd. “Yes,” they answered, and gave him their dead son, and went to their home.
The fakír carried the dead boy, who was called Mohandás, a little further on, and then laid him on the ground, and struck him with a long thin bamboo wand he carried in his hand. The boy stood up. Shekh Faríd asked him, “Would you like to go home to your father and mother, or to stay with me?” “To stay with you,” said Mohandás. (Had he wished to go home, the fakír would have been very angry.) “Then,” said Shekh Faríd, “I will call your mother here.” He did so, and when she came, he said to her, “See, here is your son alive. Will you give him to me for twelve years?” The woman said, “Yes,” and went home. The fakír gave her and her husband a quantity of rupees and built them a beautiful house. Then he and Mohandás set out on their travels, and wandered about the jungles for one whole year, till they came to a country full of large splendid gardens belonging to a very rich Rájá, called Dumkás Rájá.
This Rájá had a beautiful daughter, Champákálí Rání. She had lovely golden hair, golden eyebrows, golden eyelashes, blue eyes, and her skin was transparent. In Dumkás Rájá’s country they had never seen a fakír, so when Shekh Faríd and Mohandás arrived, the Rájá sent to them, and asked Shekh Faríd to come to talk to him. “No,” said the fakír, “I will not go to the Rájá: if the Rájá wants me, he must come to me.”
Dumkás Rájá was very angry when his messengers returned with this answer, and he ordered Shekh Faríd to leave his country immediately; but the fakír said he would not go until he had married his adopted son, Mohandás, to Champákálí Rání. The people all laughed at him for saying this, and declared such a marriage would never take place. However, the fakír and Mohandás walked about and saw the town, and looked at everything, and everybody stared at them. Then they went to live on the border of Dumkás Rájá’s country, and lived there for some time.
One day Shekh Faríd bought Mohandás a beautiful horse and fine clothes such as Rájás wear, and told the boy to ride about the fields and high roads. He also told him not to speak to any one unless they spoke to him. Mohandás promised to do as he was bid. As he was riding along, he met the Princess Champákálí, who was also riding. She asked him who he was. “A Rájá’s son,” he said. “What Rájá?” asked Champákálí. “Never mind what Rájá,” said Mohandás. The princess then went home, and so did Mohandás; but every day after this they met and talked together, and the princess fell very much in love with Mohandás.
At last she said to her father, “I wish to marry a young man who rides about on the border-land every day, and is very handsome.” The Rájá consented, for it was time his daughter was married, and now no Rájá from another country would come to marry her, as the demons who guarded the princess swallowed all her suitors at one gulp, and had already swallowed many Rájás who had come on this errand.
Shekh Faríd said to Mohandás, “Now go up to the palace, and claim the princess for your wife.” “If I do,” said Mohandás, “the demons will swallow me.” “I will not let them swallow you,” said Shekh Faríd. So Mohandás consented and set off for the palace, Shekh Faríd following him. When Mohandás came to the demons, they were going to swallow him; but the fakír, who had his sword in his hand, killed them all, and as he did so, the Rájás and princes who had come as suitors to the Princess Champákálí, and had therefore been swallowed by the demons, all came jumping out of the demons’ stomachs and ran off in all directions as hard as they could, from fear not knowing where they went.
Mohandás was greatly frightened at all this; but Shekh Faríd explained everything to him, so he went on to the palace, and the fakír went too. There Mohandás asked Dumkás Rájá to give him his daughter as his wife, and the Rájá consented. So he was married to Champákálí Rání, and her father gave them a great many elephants, and horses, and camels, and a great deal of money and many jewels. And Mohandás and his wife set off with the fakír to his father Fakír-achand’s house, and they took all the elephants, camels, horses, money and jewels with them. On the way Mohandás told Champákálí Rání that he was not a great Rájá’s son, but the son of poor people. Champákálí’s heart was very sad at this; however, she was not angry, only sorry.
When they reached Hámánsá Rájá’s country, and had come to Fakír-achand’s house, the fakír said to Mohandás’s mother, “See, you lent me one child, and I have brought you back two children. Does this please you?” “Indeed it does please me,” she answered; “I am very happy.”
They built a beautiful palace and all lived in it together. The mother begged Shekh Faríd to stay with them, saying, “Only stay with us; I will give you a bungalow, and you shall have everything you want.” But Shekh Faríd said, “I am a fakír, and so cannot stay with you, as I may never stay in one place, and must, instead, wander from country to country and from jungle to jungle.” So he said good-bye to them and went on his wanderings, and never returned to them.
Mohandás, his wife, and his father and mother, all lived happily together.
Told by Dunkní.
FAIRY TALE TRANSLATED BY MAIVE STOKES.
WITH NOTES BY MARY STOKES
SOME OF THE DOINGS OF SHEKH FARID.
1. Kheláparí means “playful fairy:” Gulábsá, “like a rose.”
2. In another version told to me this year by Dunkní, when Gursan Rájá wakes and learns how long his wife has stood by him, he is horrified, and refuses the water, saying he does not want it. He tells her that as a reward for her patience and goodness, she shall know of herself everything that happens in other countries–floods, fires, and other troubles; that she shall be able to bring help; and should any one die from having his throat cut she shall be able to restore him to life, by smearing the wound with some blood taken from an incision in her little finger. Kheláparí’s acquaintance with Shekh Faríd begins in this version as follows:–She was standing at the door of her house looking down the road, when she saw coming towards her Shekh Faríd, the cartman, and the bullock-cart laden with what once was sugar, but now, thanks to the fakír, is ashes. Through her gift Kheláparí knows all that has happened, though the miracle was not performed in her sight; and Shekh Faríd being a fakír, though his all-knowing talent does not equal hers, knows that she knows. The cartman is in despair when he discovers the ashes, and implores Shekh Faríd to help him. The fakír sends him to Kheláparí, saying he must appeal to her as her power of doing good excels his (the fakír’s); that though he could turn sugar to ashes, he could not turn the ashes to sugar. Kheláparí at the cartman’s prayer performs this miracle. Their next encounter is by a tank in the jungle by which the holy man is resting. She is hurrying along to put out the fire at her father’s palace. The Shekh cannot understand how it is possible for any woman to know of herself what is happening twenty miles off, when he, a fakír, can only know what passes at a short distance, so he follows the Rání to test her truthfulness, and arrives in time to see her helping to put out the fire. The rest of the story is the same as the version printed in this collection.
3. This Shekh Faríd was a famous Súfí saint. He was a contemporary of Nának, and many of his sayings are embodied in the Granth. In Central India, there is a holy hill of his called Girur. The Gazetteer of the Central Provinces edited by C. Grant, 2nd edition, Nágpur, 1870, says that articles of merchandise belonging to two travelling traders who mocked the saint passed before him, on which he turned the whole stock-in-trade into stones as a punishment. They implored his pardon, and he created a fresh stock for them from dry leaves, on which they were so struck by his power that they attached themselves permanently to his service, and two graves on the hill are said to be theirs. In the Pioneer for 5th August 1878, Pekin has a poem on a similar legend about the saint. Standing on his holy hill, one day Shekh Faríd saw a packman pass and he begged for alms. The packman mocked him. Then the saint asked what his sacks contained. “Stones,” was the answer. The Shekh said, “Sooth–they are but worthless stones.” Whereupon all the sacks burst, and the contents, at one time different kinds of spices, fell stones to the ground. The owner implored the saint’s mercy. Shekh Faríd told him to fill his sacks with leaves from the trees, which was done, and then the leaves became gold mohurs. The packman turned saint too and left his bones on Girur. A similar miracle is told of the Irish Saint, Brigit. “Once upon a time Brigit beheld a man with salt on his back. ‘What is that on thy back?’ saith Brigit; ‘Stones,’ saith the man. ‘They shall be stones then,’ saith Brigit, and of the salt stones were made. The same man again cometh to (or past) Brigit. ‘What is that on thy back?’ saith Brigit. ‘Salt,’ saith the man. ‘It shall be salt then,’ saith Brigit. Salt was made again thereof through Brigit’s word.” ( Three Middle Irish Homilies, p. 81.)
4. Fakírchand means the moon of fakírs. Mohandás, the servant of the Mohan (Krishṇa). Champákálí is a necklace made in imitation of the closed buds of the champa or champak flowers.
5. The demons, in Hindústání dew (pronounced deo), god, are something like the Rakshases. They have wings, and have exceedingly long lips, one of which sticks up in the air, while the other hangs down. One of King Arthur’s warriors, “Gwevyl, the son of Gwestad, on the day that he was sad, he would let one of his lips drop below his waist while he turned up the other like a cap upon his head” ( Mabinogion, vol. II. p. 266, “Kilhwch and Olwen”).
Bél, a fruit; Ægle marmelos.
Bulbul, a kind of nightingale.
Chaprásí, a messenger wearing a badge ( chaprás ).
Cooly (Tamil kúli ), a labourer in the fields; also a porter.
Dál, a kind of pulse; Phaseolus aureus, according to Wilson; Paspalum frumentaceum, according to Forbes.
Dom (the d is lingual), a low-caste Hindú.
Fakír, a Muhammadan religious mendicant.
Ghee ( ghí ), butter boiled and then set to cool.
Kází, a Muhammadan Judge.
Kotwál, the chief police officer in a town.
Líchí, a fruit; Scytalia litchi, Roxb.
Mahárájá (properly Maháráj), literally great king.
Mahárání, literally great queen.
Mainá, a kind of starling.
Maund ( man ), a measure of weight, about 87 lb.
Mohur ( muhar ), a gold coin worth 16 rupees.
Nautch ( nátya ), a union of song, dance, and instrumental music.
Pálkí, a palanquin.
Pice ( paisa ), a small copper coin.
Pilau, a dish made of either chicken or mutton, and rice.
Rájá, a king.
Rakshas, a kind of demon that eats men and beasts.
Rání, a queen.
Rohú, a kind of big fish.
Rupee ( rúpíya ), a silver coin, now worth about twenty pence.
Ryot ( ràíyat ), a cultivator.
Sarai, a walled enclosure containing small houses for the use of travellers.
Sárí, a long piece of stuff which Hindú women wind round the body as a petticoat, passing one end over the head.
Sepoy ( sipáhí ), a soldier.
Wazír, prime minister.
Yogí, a Hindú religious mendicant.