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Parwati And The Brahman

from Deccan Nursery Tales





Once upon a time there was a town called Atpat. In it there lived a
poor Brahman. When the month of Bhadrapad came round, every household
bought little images of Parwati, and the women began to walk about
the streets and sound gongs. When the poor Brahman's children saw
this they went home and said to their mother, "Mummy, Mummy, please
buy us little images of Parwati like the other little boys and girls
have." But their mother said, "What is the use of my buying images
of Parwati? If I do we shall have to make offerings, and there is
absolutely nothing in the house. You run to papa and tell him to go
into the bazaar and buy grain. If he buys grain I'll buy you images of
Parwati." The children got up and ran to their father and cried out,
"Papa, Papa, Mama says that she will buy us images of Parwati if you
will go into the bazaar and get food to offer to them." Their father
at first searched all over the house but could find no grain. And
then he looked in his purse but he could find no money with which to
go to the bazaar and buy grain. But although he tried to explain this
to his children, they would not listen to him. They screamed at him
and shouted, "Papa, Papa, Mummy says that she will buy us images of
Parwati if you will get food to offer to them." "Papa, Papa, why should
we not have images of Parwati like the other little boys and girls." At
last they bothered the poor Brahman so much that he felt worried to
death. "I love," he said, "my children as if they were made of gold,
but they will not mind what I say. They will not understand that it
is nothing but poverty which prevents my buying food and offering it
to Parwati. I might go out and beg, but when I do, no one ever gives
me anything. Death is better than a life like this." With these words
he got up and walked to the edge of the village pond and determined
to drown himself. It was dark when he started, and half-way he met
an old woman. She heard him coming and asked him who he was. He told
her all his trouble, and said that he meant to jump into the pond to
escape from his children. The woman comforted him and prevailed on him
to turn home again. He took her home. His wife came to the door with
a lamp and asked who she was. The husband did not like to say that he
had only just met her on the road, so he said to his wife, "She is my
grandmother." The wife thereupon welcomed her and invited her to come
in and stay to supper. But her heart felt as heavy as lead, for she
knew that there was nothing to eat inside the house. When the old woman
had seated herself inside the house, the Brahman's wife got up and, in
despair, went to look inside the grain-pots. She knew they were empty,
but she thought that she would first look into them once again. But,
lo and behold! when she looked this time she found the grain-pots
brimming over with grain. She called her husband, and they were both
perfectly delighted. And the wife prepared bowls full of rice-gruel,
and every one, children and all, ate the rice-gruel till the skins
on their stomachs felt quite tight. And they went to bed as happy as
possible. Next morning the old woman called to the Brahman, "My son,
my son, get me water for my bath and cook me a nice hot dinner, and
please be quick about it, and do not start making objections." The
Brahman got up and called his wife, and they got water for the old
woman's bath, and then the Brahman went out to beg. When he had gone
out before, no one had ever given him anything. But to-day every one
ran out and gave him food and molasses and copper coins. Then he went
back home in splendid spirits. His wife prepared a glorious dinner, and
the children ate so much that the skin on their stomachs felt as tight
as a kettle-drum. After breakfast the old woman said to the Brahman,
"To-morrow I want a milk-pudding for dinner." "But, Grandmamma," said
the Brahman, "where shall I get the milk from?" The old woman said,
"Don't worry about that. Just get up and hammer down as many pegs as
you can in your courtyard. Then this evening, when the cattle come
home, call to the village cows and buffaloes by name, and they will
come to you, and if you milk them you will get enough milk for my
pudding to-morrow." The Brahman did as the old woman ordered him,
and that evening he called to the cows and buffaloes by name to come
to his courtyard. And from every direction the cows and buffaloes came
running up. And behind them galloped all the little calves with their
heels in the air and their tails stuck out straight behind them. At
last the Brahman's courtyard was filled so full that no more cows or
buffaloes could enter. And he milked them all, and next day his wife
cooked a milk-pudding such as one would not see again if one lived a
thousand years. And the children ate until they were so tired of eating
that they just rolled over and went fast asleep. But that evening the
old woman said, "My son, my son, I want you to take me home." "But,
Grandmamma, Grandmamma," said the Brahman, "how can I take you home,
for I have had all this good luck only because of you. Directly you go
away my good luck will vanish." "Do not be afraid," said the old woman,
"for I am Parwati. If I bless you your good luck will never
vanish. Therefore you must come with me and see me home." But the
Brahman said, "I do not want my good luck only to continue. I want
it to increase." The old woman said, "If you come with me I shall
give you some sand. When you go back home, scatter it all over the
house and over your jars and your pots, and put it inside your boxes
and your cupboards, and scatter it all over your courtyard too, and
you will find that your good luck will never be any less than it is
now." The Brahman was satisfied with this. He worshipped the old woman
and went with her towards the tank until she suddenly disappeared. He
returned home and scattered sand all over his house and over his
jars and his pots and inside his boxes and his cupboards, and from
that day on, his good luck never left him. And his wealth increased,
and his children increased. And they all lived happily ever afterwards.





Next: Soma The Washerwoman

Previous: Parwati And The Beggar-man



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