The Sons of the Raban Rājā

A Santhal Pargana Tale

translated by Cecil Henry Bompas

There was a Rājā who used to bathe daily at a certain tank. In the tank was a great fish: as the Rājā washed his mouth this fish used daily to swallow the rinsings of his mouth. In consequence of this the fish after a time gave birth to two human children. As the two boys grew up they used to go into the village near the tank and play with the other children. One day however, a man beat them and drove them away from the other children jeering at them because they had no father. Much disturbed at this they went to the fish and asked whether it was true that they had no father. The fish told them that their father was the Rāban Rājā. The two boys resolved to go in search of the Rāban Rājā: they set out and after a time met a man and asked him if he knew the Rāban Rājā. The man asked why they wished to know. They said that they were his sons. Then the man at once killed them because the Rāban Rājā was an enemy of his country. From the place where the bodies of the dead boys lay, two large bamboos grew up. When the bamboos had grown very big, a Jogi came by that way and cut them down, making from them two flutes. These flutes produced such beautiful music that every one was charmed and the fame of the Jogi spread far and wide: so when in his wanderings the Jogi reached the kingdom of the Rāban Rājā the Rājā sent for him and the Jogi came to the palace with his two bamboo flutes. When the flutes were brought into the presence of the Rājā they burst open and from them appeared the two boys. When the Rājā heard their history he recognized them as his sons, and sent the Jogi away with large rewards.