Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Raja Rasalu

Raja Rasalu

The story of Raja Rasalu usually comes as the continuation of the story of his older brother Puran Mal also known as Chorangi Nath, by whose blessing he was born. Although Puran Mal has told his step mother that her crime against him was pardoned, he consequently added that it was not entirely forgotten. As result of it, his blessing became at the same time kind of curse for the queen and king, as retribution for the sins they committed against him. Duty this cursed cruel parents were unable to take pleasure in the company of their child since the time he was born till the end of their lives. Fortune tellers have predicted them that forthcoming child will became the reason of death of them both, if they once see his face before he became twelve years old. To avoid this, Rasalu was placed separate from them since the moment he was born for the period of twelve years, but they were still unable to be with him even after the allotted twelve years has passed. In such way both parents went through the great pain, similar they have given to Puran Mal and his mother by separating them.
As his older brother, Raja Rasalū has acquired prominent role in the Natha Sampradaya, and yogis of the Mānnāthī panth considering themselves as being his descendants. Duty his historical connection with the Natha sect and on the base of some legends and historical records, it seems as much possible that Raja Rasalu was the real historical personage, who lived at the same time with Guru Goraksh Nath. Of course his life presented in the legends may vary greatly from the real historical account about him. More detailed historical analysis was omitted here because it was discussed in the previous section in connection with his brother Puran Mal.
The tales of two brothers existed in the form of ballads sung by the wondering minstrels all over area of the Northern part of India. It is obviously that in course of time, in the same way as many other oral folk tales, they went through numerous modifications by narrators. Often the different variations of tales about two brothers borrowing from each other, are telling about the same events as the part of life of one of them.
For first time legends about Raja Rasalu were published in the systematized form by Flora Annie Steel (1847-1929) in her book Tales of the Panjab. She based her narration on the stories song by the wondering minstrels of Punjab. The story was reproduced later with some omitting by Joseph Jacobs in his Indian Fairy Tales. The both authors found these legends as being suitable fairy-tales for the entertainment of children. That is true, the saga narrating the life story of Rasalu appearing to be much more near to the style of fairy tales, than to typical stories about the Natha Siddhas. Having not much to add to it, here I presented as it appeared in Tales of the Punjab by Flora Annie Steel.

HOW RAJA RASÄLU WAS BORN

ONCE there lived a great Raja, whose name was Sälbähan, and he had two Queens. Now the elder, by name Queen Achhrä, had a fair young son called Prince Püran; but the younger, by name Lonä, though she wept and prayed at many a shrine, had never a child to delight her eyes. So, being a bad, deceitful woman, envy and rage took possession of her heart, and she so poisoned Raja Sälbähan's mind against his son, young Püran, that just as the Prince was growing to manhood, his father became madly jealous of him, and in a fit of anger ordered his hands and feet to be cut off. Not content even with this cruelty, Raja Sälbähan had the poor young man thrown into a deep well. Nevertheless, Püran did not die, as no doubt the enraged father hoped and expected; for God preserved the innocent Prince, so that he lived on, miraculously, at the bottom of the well, until, years after, the great and holy Guru Goraknäth came to the place, and finding Prince Püran still alive, not only released him from his dreadful prison, but, by the power of magic, restored his hands and feet. Then Püran, in gratitude for this great boon, became a faqér, and placing the sacred earrings in his ears, followed Goraknäth as a disciple, and was called Püran Bhagat.
But as time went by, his heart yearned to see his mother's face, so Guru Goraknäth gave him leave to visit his native town, and Püran Bhagat journeyed thither and took up his abode in a large walled garden, where he had often played as a child. And, lo! he found it neglected and barren, so that his heart became sad when he saw the broken watercourses and the withered trees. Then he sprinkled the dry ground with water from his drinking vessel, and prayed that all might become green again. And, lo! even as he prayed, the trees shot forth leaves, the grass grew, the flowers bloomed, and all was as it had once been.
The news of this marvellous thing spread fast through the city, and all the world went out to see the holy man who had performed the wonder. Even the Raja Sälbähan and his two Queens heard of it in the palace, and they too went to the garden to see it with their own eyes. But Püran Bhagat's mother, Queen Achhrä, had wept so long for her darling, that the tears had blinded her eyes, and so she went, not to see, but to ask the wonder-working faqér to restore her sight. Therefore, little knowing from whom she asked the boon, she fell on the ground before Püran Bhagat, begging him to cure her; and, lo! almost before she asked, it was done, and she saw plainly.
Then deceitful Queen Lonä, who all these years had been longing vainly for a son, when she saw what mighty power the unknown faqér possessed, fell on the ground also, and begged for an heir to gladden the heart of Raja Sälbähan.
Then Püran Bhagat spoke, and his voice was stern,—"Raja Sälbähan already has a son. Where is he? What have you done with him? Speak truth, Queen Lonä, if you would find favour with God!"
Then the woman's great longing for a son conquered her pride, and though her husband stood by, she humbled herself before the faqér and told the truth,—how she had deceived the father and destroyed the son.
Then Püran Bhagat rose to his feet, stretched out his hands towards her, and a smile was on his face, as he said softly, "Even so, Queen Lonä! even so! And behold! I am Prince Püran, whom you destroyed and God delivered! I have a message for you. Your fault is forgiven, but not forgotten; you shall indeed bear a son, who shall be brave and good, yet will he cause you to weep tears as bitter as those my mother wept for me. So! take this grain of rice; eat it, and you shall bear a son that will be no son to you, for even as I was reft from my mother's eyes, so will he be reft from yours. Go in peace; your fault is forgiven, but not forgotten!"
Queen Lonä returned to the palace, and when the time for the birth of the promised son drew nigh, she inquired of three Jogis who came begging to her gate, what the child's fate would be, and the youngest of them answered and said, "O Queen, the child will be a boy, and he will live to be a great man. But for twelve years you must not look upon his face, for if either you or his father see it before the twelve years are past, you will surely die! This is what you must do,—as soon as the child is born you must send him away to a cellar underneath the ground, and never let him see the light of day for twelve years. After they are over, he may come forth, bathe in the river, put on new clothes, and visit you. His name shall be Raja Rasälu, and he shall be known far and wide."
So, when a fair young Prince was in due time born into the world, his parents hid him away in an underground palace, with nurses, and servants, and everything else a King's son might desire. And with him they sent a young colt, born the same day, and a sword, a spear, and a shield, against the day when Raja Rasälu should go forth into the world.
So there the child lived, playing with his colt, and talking to his parrot, while the nurses taught him all things needful for a King's son to know.
HOW RAJA RASÄLU WENT OUT INTO THE WORLD

YOUNG Rasälu lived on, far from the light of day, for eleven long years, growing tall and strong, yet contented to remain playing with his colt and talking to his parrot; but when the twelfth year began, the lad's heart leapt up with desire for change, and he loved to listen to the sounds of life which came to him in his palace-prison from the outside world.
"I must go and see where the voices come from!" he said; and when his nurses told him he must not go for one year more, he only laughed aloud, saying, "Nay! I stay no longer here for any man!"
Then he saddled his horse Bhanur Iraqi, put on his shining armour, and rode forth into the world; but—mindful of what his nurses had often told him—when he came to the river, he dismounted, and going into the water, washed himself and his clothes.
Then, clean of raiment, fair of face, and brave of heart, he rode on his way until he reached his father's city. There he sat down to rest a while by a well, where the women were drawing water in earthen pitchers. Now, as they passed him, their full pitchers poised upon their heads, the gay young Prince flung stones at the earthen vessels, and broke them all. Then the women, drenched with water, went weeping and wailing to the palace, complaining to the King that a mighty young Prince in shining armour, with a parrot on his wrist and a gallant steed beside him, sat by the well, and broke their pitchers.
Now, as soon as Raja Sälbähan heard this, he guessed at once that it was Prince Rasälu come forth before the time, and, mindful of the Jogis' words that he would die if he looked on his son's face before twelve years were past, he did not dare to send his guards to seize the offender and bring him to be judged. So he bade the women be comforted, and for the future take pitchers of iron and brass, and gave new ones from his treasury to those who did not possess any of their own.
But when Prince Rasälu saw the women returning to the well with pitchers of iron and brass, he laughed to himself, and drew his mighty bow till the sharp-pointed arrows pierced the metal vessels as though they had been clay.
Yet still the King did not send for him, and so he mounted his steed and set off in the pride of his youth and strength to the palace. He strode into the audience hall, where his father sat trembling, and saluted him with all reverence; but Raja Sälbähan, in fear of his life, turned his back hastily and said never a word in reply.
Then Prince Rasälu called scornfully to him across the hall—
"I came to greet thee, King, and not to harm thee!
What have I done that thou shouldst turn away?
Sceptre and empire have no power to charm me—
I go to seek a worthier prize than they!"
Then he strode out of the hall, full of bitterness and anger; but, as he passed under the palace windows, he heard his mother weeping, and the sound softened his heart, so that his wrath died down, and a great loneliness fell upon him, because he was spurned by both father and mother. So he cried sorrowfully—
"O heart crown'd with grief, hast thou naught
But tears for thy son?
Art mother of mine? Give one thought
To my life just begun!"
And Queen Lonä answered through her tears—
"Yea! mother am I, though I weep,
So hold this word sure,—
Go, reign king of all men, but keep
Thy heart good and pure!"
So Raja Rasälu was comforted, and began to make ready for fortune. He took with him his horse Bhanur Iraqi, and his parrot, both of whom had lived with him since he was born; and besides these tried and trusted friends he had two others—a carpenter lad, and a goldsmith lad, who were determined to follow the Prince till death.
So they made a goodly company, and Queen Lonä, when she saw them going, watched them from her window till she saw nothing but a cloud of dust on the horizon; then she bowed her head on her hands and wept, saying—
"O son who ne'er gladdened mine eyes,
Let the cloud of thy going arise,
Dim the sunlight and darken the day;
For the mother whose son is away
Is as dust!"

HOW RAJA RASÄLU'S FRIENDS FORSOOK HIM

NOW, on the first day, Raja Rasälu journeyed far, until he came to a lonely forest, where he halted for the night. And seeing it was a desolate place, and the night dark, he determined to set a watch. So he divided the time into three watches, and the carpenter took the first, the goldsmith the second, and Raja Rasälu the third.
Then the goldsmith lad spread a couch of clean grass for his master, and fearing lest the Prince's heart should sink at the change from his former luxurious life, he said these words of encouragement—
"Cradled till now on softest down,
Grass is thy couch to-night;
Yet grieve not thou if Fortune frown—
Brave hearts heed not her slight!"
Now, when Raja Rasälu and the goldsmith's son slept, a snake came out of a thicket hard by, and crept towards the sleepers.
"Who are you?" quoth the carpenter lad, "and why do you come hither?"
"I have destroyed all things within twelve miles!" returned the serpent. "Who are you that have dared to come hither?
Then the snake attacked the carpenter, and they fought until the snake was killed, when the carpenter hid the dead body under his shield, and said nothing of the adventure to his comrades, lest he should alarm them, for, like the goldsmith, he thought the Prince might be discouraged.
Now, when it came to Raja Rasälu's turn to keep watch, a dreadful unspeakable horror came out of the thicket. Nevertheless, Rasälu went up to it boldly, and cried aloud, "Who are you? and what brings you here?"
Then the awful unspeakable horror replied, "I have killed everything for thrice twelve miles around! Who are you that dare come hither?"
Whereupon Rasälu drew his mighty bow, and pierced the horror with an arrow, so that it fled into a cave, whither the Prince followed it. And they fought long and fiercely, till at last the horror died, and Rasälu returned to watch in peace.
Now, when morning broke, Raja Rasälu called his sleeping servants, and the carpenter showed with pride the body of the serpent he had killed.
"'Tis but a small snake!" quoth the Raja. "Come and see what I killed in the cave!"
And, behold! when the goldsmith lad and the carpenter lad saw the awful, dreadful, unspeakable horror Raja Rasälu had slain, they were exceedingly afraid, and falling on their knees, begged to be allowed to return to the city, saying, "O mighty Rasälu, you are a Raja and a hero! You can fight such horrors; we are but ordinary folk, and if we follow you we shall surely be killed. Such things are nought to you, but they are death to us. Let us go!"
[244] Then Rasälu looked at them sorrowfully, and bade them do as they wished, saying—
"Aloes linger long before they flower:
Gracious rain too soon is overpast;
Youth and strength are with us but an hour:
All glad life must end in death at last!
But king reigns king without consent of courtier;
Rulers may rule, though none heed their command.
Heaven-crown'd heads stoop not, but rise the haughtier,
Alone and houseless in a stranger's land!"
So his friends forsook him, and Rasälu journeyed on alone.

HOW RAJA RASÄLU KILLED THE GIANTS

NOW after a time, Raja Rasälu arrived at Nila city, and as he entered the town he saw an old woman making unleavened bread, and as she made it she sometimes wept, and sometimes laughed; so Rasälu asked her why she wept and laughed, but she answered sadly, as she kneaded her cakes, "Why do you ask? What will you gain by it?"
"Nay, mother!" replied Rasälu, "if you tell me the truth, one of us must benefit by it."
And when the old woman looked in Rasälu's face she saw that it was kind, so she opened her heart to] him, saying, with tears, "O stranger, I had seven fair sons, and now I have but one left, for six of them have been killed by a dreadful giant who comes every day to this city to receive tribute from us,—every day a fair young man, a buffalo, and a basket of cakes! Six of my sons have gone, and now to-day it has once more fallen to my lot to provide the tribute; and my boy, my darling, my youngest, must meet the fate of his brothers. Therefore I weep!"
Then Rasälu was moved to pity, and said—
"Fond, foolish mother! cease these tears—
Keep thou thy son. I fear nor death nor life,
Seeking my fortune everywhere in strife.
My head for his I give!—so calm your fears."
Still the old woman shook her head doubtfully, saying, "Fair words, fair words! but who will really risk his life for another?"
Then Rasälu smiled at her, and dismounting from his gallant steed, Bhanur Iraqi, he sat down carelessly to rest, as if indeed he were a son of the house, and said, "Fear not, mother! I give you my word of honour that I will risk my life to save your son."
Just then the high officials of the city, whose duty it was to claim the giant's tribute, appeared in sight, and the old woman fell a-weeping once more, saying—
"O Prince, with the gallant gray steed and the turban bound high
O'er thy fair bearded face; keep thy word, my oppressor draws nigh!"
Then Raja Rasälu rose in his shining armour, and haughtily bade the guards stand aside.
"Fair words!" replied the chief officer; "but if this woman does not send the tribute at once, the giants will come and disturb the whole city. Her son must go!"
"I go in his stead!" quoth Rasälu more haughtily still. "Stand back, and let me pass!"
Then, despite their denials, he mounted his horse, and taking the basket of cakes and the buffalo, he set off to find the giant, bidding the buffalo show him the shortest road.
Now, as he came near the giants' house, he met one of them carrying a huge skinful of water. No sooner did the water-carrier giant see Raja Rasälu riding along on his horse Bhanur Iraqi and leading the buffalo, than he said to himself, "Oho! we have a horse extra to-day! I think I will eat it myself, before my brothers see it!"
Then he reached out his hand, but Rasälu drew his sharp sword and smote the giant's hand off at a blow, so that he fled from him in great fear.
Now, as he fled, he met his sister the giantess, who called out to him, "Brother, whither away so fast?"
And the giant answered in haste, "Raja Rasälu has come at last, and see!—he has cut off my hand with one blow of his sword!"
Then the giantess, overcome with fear, fled with her brother, and as they fled they called aloud—
"Fly! brethren, fly!
Take the path that is nearest;
The fire burns high
That will scorch up our dearest!
[248]
Life's joys we have seen:
East and west we must wander!
What has been, has been;
Quick! some remedy ponder."
Then all the giants turned and fled to their astrologer brother, and bade him look in his books to see if Raja Rasälu were really born into the world. And when they heard that he was, they prepared to fly east and west; but even as they turned, Raja Rasälu rode up on Bhanur Iraqi, and challenged them to fight, saying, "Come forth, for I am Rasälu, son of Raja Sälbähan, and born enemy of the giants!"
Then one of the giants tried to brazen it out, saying, "I have eaten many Rasälus like you! When the real man comes, his horse's heel-ropes will bind us and his sword cut us up of their own accord!"
Then Raja Rasälu loosed his heel-ropes, and dropped his sword upon the ground, and, lo! the heel-ropes bound the giants, and the sword cut them in pieces.
Still, seven giants who were left tried to brazen it out, saying, "Aha! We have eaten many Rasälus like you! When the real man comes, his arrow will pierce seven girdles placed one behind the other."
So they took seven iron girdles for baking bread, and placed them one behind the other, as a shield, and behind them stood the seven giants, who were own brothers, and, lo! when Raja Rasälu twanged his mighty bow, the arrow pierced through the seven girdles, and spitted the seven giants in a row!
But the giantess, their sister, escaped, and fled to a cave in the Gandgari mountains. Then Raja Rasälu had a statue made in his likeness, and clad it in shining armour, with sword and spear and shield. And he placed it as a sentinel at the entrance of the cave, so that the giantess dared not come forth, but starved to death inside.
So this is how he killed the giants.

HOW RAJA RASÄLU BECAME A JOGI

THEN, after a time, Rasälu went to Hodinagari. And when he reached the house of the beautiful far-famed Queen Sundran, he saw an old Jogi sitting at the gate, by the side of his sacred fire.
"Wherefore do you sit there, father?" asked Raja Rasälu.
"My son," returned the Jogi, "for two-and-twenty years have I waited thus to see the beautiful Sundran, yet have I never seen her!"
"Make me your pupil," quoth Rasälu, "and I will wait too."
"You work miracles already, my son," said the Jogi; "so where is the use of your becoming one of us?"
Nevertheless, Raja Rasälu would not be denied, so the Jogi bored his ears and put in the sacred earrings. Then the new disciple put aside his shining armour, and sat by the fire in a Jogi's loin-cloth, waiting to see Queen Sundran.
Then, at night, the old Jogi went and begged alms from four houses, and half of what he got he gave to Rasälu and half he ate himself. Now Raja Rasälu, being a very holy man, and a hero besides, did not care for food, and was well content with his half share, but the Jogi felt starved.
The next day the same thing happened, and still Rasälu sat by the fire waiting to see the beautiful Queen Sundran.
Then the Jogi lost patience, and said, "O my disciple, I made you a pupil in order that you might beg, and feed me, and behold, it is I who have to starve to feed you!"
"You gave no orders!" quoth Rasälu, laughing. "How can a disciple beg without his master's leave?"
"I order you now!" returned the Jogi. "Go and beg enough for you and for me."
So Raja Rasälu rose up, and stood at the gate of Queen Sundran's palace, in his Jogi's dress, and sang,
"Alakh! at thy threshold I stand,
Drawn from far by the name of thy charms;
Fair Sundran, with generous hand,
Give the earring-decked Jogi an alms!"
Now when Queen Sundran, from within, heard Rasälu's voice, its sweetness pierced her heart, so that she immediately sent out alms by the hand of her maid-servant. But when the maiden came to the gate, and saw the exceeding beauty of Rasälu, standing outside, fair in face and form, she fainted away, dropping the alms upon the ground.
Then once more Rasälu sang, and again his voice fell sweetly on Queen Sundran's ears, so that she sent out more alms by the hand of another maiden. But she also fainted away at the sight of Rasälu's marvellous beauty.
Then Queen Sundran rose, and came forth herself, fair and stately. She chid the maidens, gathered up the broken alms, and setting the food aside, filled the plate with jewels and put it herself into Rasälu's hands, saying proudly—
"Since when have the earrings been thine?
Since when wert thou made a faqér?
What arrow from Love's bow has struck thee?
What seekest thou here?
Do you beg of all women you see,
Or only, fair Jogi, of me?"
And Rasälu, in his Jogi's habit, bent his head towards her, saying softly—
"A day since the earrings were mine,
A day since I turned a faqér;
But yesterday Love's arrow struck me;
I seek nothing here!
I beg nought of others I see,
But only, fair Sundran, of thee!"
Now, when Rasälu returned to his master with the plate full of jewels, the old Jogi was sorely astonished, and bade him take them back, and ask for food instead. So Rasälu returned to the gate, and sang—
"Alakh! at thy threshold I stand,
Drawn from far by the fame of thy charms;
Fair Sundran, with generous hand,
Give the earring-decked beggar an alms!"
Then Queen Sundran rose up, proud and beautiful, and coming to the gate, said softly—
"No beggar thou! The quiver of thy mouth
Is set with pearly shafts; its bow is red
As rubies rare. Though ashes hide thy youth,
Thine eyes, thy colour, herald it instead!
Deceive me not—pretend no false desire—
But ask the secret alms thou dost require."

But Rasälu smiled a scornful smile, saying—
"Fair Queen! what though the quiver of my mouth
Be set with glistening pearls and rubies red?
I trade not jewels, east, west, north, or south;
Take back thy gems, and give me food instead.
Thy gifts are rich and rare, but costly charms
Scarce find fit placing in a Jogi's alms!"
Then Queen Sundran took back the jewels, and bade the beautiful Jogi wait an hour till the food was cooked. Nevertheless, she learnt no more of him, for he sat by the gate and said never a word. Only when Queen Sundran gave him a plate piled up with sweets, and looked at him sadly, saying—
"What King's son art thou? and whence dost thou come?
What name hast thou, Jogi, and where is thy home?"
then Raja Rasälu, taking the alms, replied—
"I am fair Lonä's son; my father's name
Great Sälbähan, who reigns at Siälkot.
I am Rasälu; for thy beauty's fame
These ashes, and the Jogi's begging note,
To see if thou wert fair as all men say;
Lo! I have seen it, and I go my way!"
Then Rasälu returned to his master with the sweets, and after that he went away from the place, for he feared lest the Queen, knowing who he was, might try to keep him prisoner.
And beautiful Sundran waited for the Jogi's cry, and when none came, she went forth, proud and stately, to ask the old Jogi whither his pupil had gone.
Now he, vexed that she should come forth to ask for a stranger, when he had sat at her gates for two-and-twenty years with never a word or sign, answered back, "My pupil? I was hungry, and I ate him, because he did not bring me alms enough."
"Oh, monster!" cried Queen Sundran. "Did I not send thee jewels and sweets? Did not these satisfy thee, that thou must feast on beauty also?"
"I know not," quoth the Jogi; "only this I know—I put the youth on a spit, roasted him, and ate him up. He tasted well!"
"Then roast and eat me too!" cried poor Queen Sundran; and with the words she threw herself into the sacred fire and became sati for the love of the beautiful Jogi Rasälu.
And he, going thence, thought not of her, but fancying he would like to be king a while, he snatched the throne from Raja Hari Chand, and reigned in his stead.

HOW RAJA RASÄLU JOURNEYED TO THE CITY OF KING SARKAP

NOW, after he had reigned a while in Hodinagari, Rasälu gave up his kingdom, and started off to play chaupur with King Sarkap. And as he journeyed there came a fierce storm of thunder and lightning, so that he sought shelter, and found none save an old graveyard, where a headless corpse lay upon the ground. So lonesome was it that even the corpse seemed company, and Rasälu, sitting down beside it, said—
"There is no one here, nor far nor near,
Save this breathless corpse so cold and grim;
Would God he might come to life again,
'Twould be less lonely to talk to him."
And immediately the headless corpse arose and sat beside Raja Rasälu. And he, nothing astonished, said to it—
"The storm beats fierce and loud,
The clouds rise thick in the west;
What ails thy grave and thy shroud,
O corpse, that thou canst not rest?"
[256] Then the headless corpse replied—
"On earth I was even as thou,
My turban awry like a king,
My head with the highest, I trow,
Having my fun and my fling,
Fighting my foes like a brave,
Living my life with a swing.
And, now I am dead,
Sins, heavy as lead,
Will give me no rest in my grave!"
So the night passed on, dark and dreary, while Rasälu sat in the graveyard and talked to the headless corpse. Now when morning broke and Rasälu said he must continue his journey, the headless corpse asked him whither he was going; and when he said. "to play chaupur with King Sarkap," the corpse begged him to give up the idea, saying, "I am King Sarkap's brother, and I know his ways. Every day, before breakfast, he cuts off the heads of two or three men, just to amuse himself. One day no one else was at hand, so he cut off mine, and he will surely cut off yours on some pretence or another. However, if you are determined to go and play chaupur with him, take some of the bones from this graveyard, and make your dice out of them, and then the enchanted dice with which my brother plays will lose their virtue. Otherwise he will always win."
So Rasälu took some of the bones lying about, and fashioned them into dice, and these he put into his pocket. Then, bidding adieu to the headless corpse, he went on his way to play chaupur with the King.
HOW RAJA RASÄLU SWUNG THE SEVENTY FAIR MAIDENS, DAUGHTERS OF THE KING

NOW, as Raja Rasälu, tender-hearted and strong, journeyed along to play chaupur with the King, he came to a burning forest, and a voice rose from the fire saying, "O traveller, for God's sake save me from the fire!"
Then the Prince turned towards the burning forest, and, lo! the voice was the voice of a tiny cricket. Nevertheless, Rasälu, tender-hearted and strong, snatched it from the fire and set it at liberty. Then the little creature, full of gratitude, pulled out one of its feelers, and giving it to its preserver, said, "Keep this, and should you ever be in trouble, put it into the fire, and instantly I will come to your aid."
The Prince smiled, saying, "What help could you give me?" Nevertheless, he kept the hair and went on his way.
Now, when he reached the city of King Sarkap, seventy maidens, daughters of the King, came out to meet him—seventy fair maidens, merry and careless, full of smiles and laughter; but one, the youngest of them all, when she saw the gallant young Prince riding on Bhanur Iraqi, going gaily to his doom, was filled with pity, and called to him, saying—
"Fair Prince, on the charger so gray,
Turn thee back! turn thee back!
Or lower thy lance for the fray;
Thy head will be forfeit to-day!
Dost love life? then, stranger, I pray,
Turn thee back! turn thee back!"
But he, smiling at the maiden, answered lightly—
"Fair maiden, I come from afar,
Sworn conqueror in love and in war!
King Sarkap my coming will rue,
His head in four pieces I'll hew;
Then forth as a bridegroom I'll ride,
With you, little maid, as my bride!"
Now when Rasälu replied so gallantly, the maiden looked in his face, and seeing how fair he was, and how brave and strong, she straightway fell in love with him, and would gladly have followed him through the world.
But the other sixty-nine maidens, being jealous, laughed scornfully at her, saying, "Not so fast, O gallant warrior! If you would marry our sister you must first do our bidding, for you will be our younger brother."
"Fair sisters!" quoth Rasälu gaily, "give me my task and I will perform it."
So the sixty-nine maidens mixed a hundredweight of millet seed with a hundredweight of sand, and giving it to Rasälu, bade him separate the seed from the sand.
Then he bethought him of the cricket, and drawing the feeler from his pocket, thrust it into the fire. And immediately there was a whirring noise in the air, and a great flight of crickets alighted beside him, and among them the cricket whose life he had saved.
Then Rasälu said, "Separate the millet seed from the sand."
"Is that all?" quoth the cricket; "had I known how small a job you wanted me to do, I would not have assembled so many of my brethren."
With that the flight of crickets set to work, and in one night they separated the seed from the sand.
Now when the sixty-nine fair maidens, daughters of the King, saw that Rasälu had performed his task, they set him another, bidding him swing them all, one by one, in their swings, until they were tired.
Whereupon he laughed, saying, "There are seventy of you, counting my little bride yonder, and I am not going to spend my life in swinging girls; yet, by the time I have given each of you a swing, the first will be wanting another! No! if you want to swing, get in, all seventy of you, into one swing, and then I will see what I can compass."
So the seventy maidens, merry and careless, full of smiles and laughter, climbed into the one swing, and Raja Rasälu, standing in his shining armour, fastened the ropes to his mighty bow, and drew it up to its fullest bent. Then he let go, and like an arrow the swing shot into the air, with its burden of seventy fair maidens, merry and careless, full of smiles and laughter.
But as it swung back again, Rasälu, standing there in his shining armour, drew his sharp sword and severed the ropes. Then the seventy fair maidens fell to the ground headlong; and some were bruised and some broken, but the only one who escaped unhurt was the maiden who loved Rasälu, for she fell out last, on the top of the others, and so came to no harm.
After this, Rasälu strode on fifteen paces, till he came to the seventy drums, that every one who came to play chaupur with the King had to beat in turn; and he beat them so loudly that he broke them all. Then he came to the seventy gongs, all in a row, and he hammered them so hard that they cracked to pieces.
Seeing this, the youngest Princess, who was the only one who could run, fled to her father the King in a great fright, saying—
"A mighty Prince, Sarkap! making havoc, rides along,
He swung us, seventy maidens fair, and threw us out headlong;
He broke the drums you placed there and the gongs too in his pride,
Sure, he will kill thee, father mine, and take me for his bride!"
But King Sarkap replied scornfully—
"Silly maiden, thy words make a lot
Of a very small matter;
For fear of my valour, I wot,
His armour will clatter.
As soon as I've eaten my bread
I'll go forth and cut off his head!"
Notwithstanding these brave and boastful words, he was in reality very much afraid, having heard of Rasälu's renown. And learning that he was stopping at the house of an old woman in the city, till the hour for playing chaupur arrived, Sarkap sent slaves to him with trays of sweetmeats and fruit, as to an honoured guest. But the food was poisoned.
Now when the slaves brought the trays to Raja Rasälu, he rose up haughtily, saying, "Go, tell your master I have nought to do with him in friendship. I am his sworn enemy, and I eat not of his salt!"
So saying, he threw the sweetmeats to Raja Sarkap's dog, which had followed the slaves, and lo! the dog died.
Then Rasälu was very wroth, and said bitterly, "Go back to Sarkap, slaves! and tell him that Rasälu deems it no act of bravery to kill even an enemy by treachery."

HOW RAJA RASÄLU PLAYED CHAUPUR WITH KING SARKAP

NOW, when evening came, Raja Rasälu went forth to play chaupur with King Sarkap, and as he passed some potters' kilns he saw a cat wandering about restlessly; so he asked what ailed her that she never stood still, and she replied, "My kittens are in an unbaked pot in the kiln yonder. It has just been set alight, and my children will be baked alive; therefore I cannot rest!"
Her words moved the heart of Raja Rasälu, and, going to the potter, he asked him to sell the kiln as it was; but the potter replied that he could not settle a fair price till the pots were burnt, as he could not tell how many would come out whole. Nevertheless, after some bargaining, he consented at last to sell the kiln, and Rasälu, having searched through all the pots, restored the kittens to their mother, and she, in gratitude for his mercy, gave him one of them, saying, "Put it in your pocket, for it will help you when you are in difficulties."
So Raja Rasälu put the kitten in his pocket, and went to play chaupur with the King.
Now, before they sat down to play, Raja Sarkap fixed his stakes. On the first game, his kingdom; on [263] the second, the wealth of the whole world; and on the third, his own head. So, likewise, Raja Rasälu fixed his stakes. On the first game, his arms; on the second, his horse; and on the third, his own head.
Then they began to play, and it fell to Rasälu's lot to make the first move. Now he, forgetful of the dead man's warning, played with the dice given him by Raja Sarkap; then, in addition, Sarkap let loose his famous rat, Dhol Raja, and it ran about the board, upsetting the chaupur pieces on the sly, so that Rasälu lost the first game, and gave up his shining armour.
So the second game began, and once more Dhol Raja, the rat, upset the pieces; and Rasälu, losing the game, gave up his faithful steed. Then Bhanur Iraqi, who stood by, found voice, and cried to his master—
"I am born of the sea and of gold;
Dear Prince! trust me now as of old.
I'll carry you far from these wiles—
My flight, all unspurr'd, will be swift as a bird,
For thousands and thousands of miles!
Or if needs you must stay; ere the next game you play,
Place hand in your pocket, I pray!"
Hearing this, Raja Sarkap frowned, and bade his slaves remove Bhanur Iraqi, since he gave his master advice in the game. Now when the slaves came to lead the faithful steed away, Rasälu could not refrain from tears, thinking over the long years during which Bhanur Iraqi had been his companion. But the horse cried out again—
"Weep not, dear Prince! I shall not eat my bread
Of stranger hands, nor to strange stall be led.
Take thy right hand, and place it as I said."
These words roused some recollection in Rasälu's mind, and when, just at this moment, the kitten in his pocket began to struggle, he remembered the warning which the corpse had given him about the dice made from dead men's bones. Then his heart rose up once more, and he called boldly to Raja Sarkap, "Leave my horse and arms here for the present. Time enough to take them away when you have won my head!"
Now, Raja Sarkap, seeing Rasälu's confident bearing, began to be afraid, and ordered all the women of his palace to come forth in their gayest attire and stand before Rasälu, so as to distract his attention from the game. But he never even looked at them; and drawing the dice from his pocket, said to Sarkap, "We have played with your dice all this time; now we will play with mine."
Then the kitten went and sat at the window through which the rat Dhol Raja used to come, and the game began.
After a while, Sarkap, seeing Raja Rasälu was winning, called to his rat, but when Dhol Raja saw the kitten he was afraid, and would not go farther. So Rasälu won, and took back his arms. Next he played for his horse, and once more Raja Sarkap called for his rat; but Dhol Raja, seeing the kitten keeping watch, was afraid. So Rasälu won the second stake, and took back Bhanur Iraqi.
Then Sarkap brought all his skill to bear on the third and last game, saying—
"O moulded pieces, favour me to-day!
For sooth this is a man with whom I play.
No paltry risk—but life and death at stake;
As Sarkap does, so do, for Sarkap's sake!"
But Rasälu answered back—
"O moulded pieces, favour me to-day!
For sooth it is a man with whom I play.
No paltry risk—but life and death at stake;
As Heaven does, so do, for Heaven's sake!"
So they began to play, whilst the women stood round in a circle, and the kitten watched Dhol Raja from the window. Then Sarkap lost, first his kingdom, then the wealth of the whole world, and lastly his head.
Just then, a servant came in to announce the birth of a daughter to Raja Sarkap, and he, overcome by misfortunes, said, "Kill her at once! for she has been born in an evil moment, and has brought her father ill luck!"
But Rasälu rose up in his shining armour, tenderhearted and strong, saying, "Not so, O king! She has done no evil. Give me this child to wife; and if you will vow, by all you hold sacred, never again to play chaupur for another's head, I will spare yours now!"
Then Sarkap vowed a solemn vow never to play for another's head; and after that he took a fresh mango branch, and the new-born babe, and placing them on a golden dish, gave them to the Prince.
Now, as Rasälu left the palace, carrying with him the new-born babe and the mango branch, he met a band of prisoners, and they called out to him—
"A royal hawk art thou, O King! the rest
But timid wild-fowl. Grant us our request—
Unloose these chains, and live for ever blest!"
And Raja Rasälu hearkened to them, and bade King Sarkap set them at liberty.
Then he went to the Murti Hills, and placed the new-born babe, Kokilan, in an underground palace, and planted the mango branch at the door, saying, "In twelve years the mango tree will blossom; then will I return and marry Kokilan."
And after twelve years, the mango tree began to flower, and Raja Rasälu married the Princess Kokilan, whom he won from Sarkap when he played chaupur with the King.
Here is the end.

Sometimes story of Rasalu goes further, some of Punjab tales not ending on this happy end, but telling about consequent soorwful events. It is said that Rany Kokilan was ofthen left alone by heer husband who was busy in his responcibilities as a king and often was away from home. Some historical reports saying that he often was at war wit different enimies. To be shure about her conduct while he was absent, Raja Rasalū has left with her, as spies two birds which could talk, to report him. One of them was a parrot and other was hill starling.
While Rasalū was absent on a hunting excursion, his young and lonely bride was seated at her window one day, when the handsome Rāja Hodi chanced to see her as he rode past. “And she saw him, and he took the place which Rasalū had left vacant in her heart… So Rana Kokla threw him down a rope, which she tied firmly to the balcony. And Rāja Hodi clambered up to the balcony by this rope, and entered the chamber of Rana Kokla. And the mina exclaimed: ‘What wickedness is this?’ Then Hodi went straight to the mina's cage and wrung its neck. So the parrot, taking warning, said: ‘The steed of Rasalū is swift; what if he should surprise you? Let me out of my cage, and I will fly over the palace, and will inform you the instant he appears in sight.’ And Kokla said: ‘O excellent bird! do even as thou hast said,’ and she released the bird from its cage. Then the parrot flew swift as an arrow to Dumtūr, and alighting upon Rasalū's shoulder, as he hunted the stag, exclaimed: ‘O Raja, a cat is at your cream!’”

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