The Next World

A Santhal Pargana Tale

translated by Cecil Henry Bompas

This is what the Santals say about the next world. After death men have a very hard time of it in the next world. Chando bonga makes them work terribly hard; the woman have to pound the fruit of the castor oil plant with a pestle; and from the seeds Chando bonga makes human beings. All day long they have to work; those women who have babies get a little respite on the excuse of suckling their babies; but those who have no children get no rest at all; and the men are allowed to break off to chew tobacco but those who have not learnt to chew have to work without stopping from morning to night. And this is the reason why Santals learn to chew tobacco when they are alive; for it is of no use to merely smoke a huka: in the next world we shall not be allowed to knock off work in order to smoke. In the next world also it is very difficult to get water to drink. There are frogs who stand on guard and drive away any who comes to the water to drink; and so when Santals die we send drinking vessels with them so that they may be able to run quickly to the water and fill the vessels and get away before they are stopped. And it is said that if a man during his lifetime has planted a peepul tree he gets abused for it in the next world and is told to go and pick the leaves out of the water which have fallen into it and are spoiling it and such a man is able to get water to drink while he is picking the leaves out of it; but whether this is all true I cannot say.