Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

white liquid trickles. The attendant of the shrine says that this was milk in the olden days, but a greedy Jogi boiled his rice in it and since then the supply has ceased. Another is called Guptâ Gangâ or “ the hidden Ganges,” whose waters may be heard rushing below. Hence bathing there is as efficacious as in the sacred river itself. Among the Korwas of Chota Nagpur, their bloodthirsty deity has a cave for her residence. Mahadeva, say the Gonds, shut up the founders of their race in a cave in the Himalayas, but Lingo removed the stone and released sixteen crores of Gonds. Talâo Daitya, a noted demon of Kâthiâwâr, lives in a cave where a lamp is lit which never goes out, however violently the wind may blow or the rain may fall. Saptasrî Devi, a much dreaded spirit in the Konkan, lives in a cave; such is also the case with the eight-armed Devî at Asthbhuja, in the Mirzapur District. Her devotees have to creep through a narrow passage into what is now the shrine of the goddess, but is said to have been, and very probably was, a cave.

2

When the Korwas of Mirzapur have to enter a cave, they first arm themselves with a rude spear and axe as a protection against Bhûts. There are two haunted caves in the Mircha and Banka Hills in Sarguja. The Mircha cave is inhabited by a demon called Mahâdâni Deo, who is much feared. Not even a Baiga can enter this cave, but many of them have seen his white horse tied up near the entrance, and green grass and horsedung lying there. In the cave on the Banka Hill lives a Dâno, whose name either no one knows or dares to tell. No one ventures to enter his cave, and he worries people in dreams and brings sickness, unless a Baiga periodically offers a cock with black and white feathers below the cave, makes a fire sacrifice and throws some grains of rice in the direction of the mountain. When this Deo is enraged, a noise which sounds like Gudgud ! Gudgud ! comes from the cave. He is also heard shouting

1 “North Indian Notes and Queries,” ii. 106 ; ii. 147. ? Atkinson, “ Himalayan Gazetteer,” ii. 321 sq.; “Bombay Gazetteer,” viii. 660 ; xi. 383.

at night, and when cholera is coming he calls out Khabardār / Khabardār / “Be cautious ! Becautious !” Any one who goes near the cave gets diarrhoea. Captain Younghusband has recently solved the mystery of the famous Lamp Rock cave of Central Asia, which is simply the light coming through a concealed aperture at the rear of the entrance." Many caves, again, have acquired their sanctity by being occupied by famous Hindu and Muhammadan saints. Such are some of the Buddhistic caves found in many places, which are now occupied by their successors of other faiths. There is a cave at Bhuili, in the Mirzapur District, which has a very narrow entrance, but miraculously expands to accommodate any possible number of pilgrims. They say that when the saint Salim Chishti came to visit Shāh Viláyat at Agra, the stone seat in front of the mosque of the latter was large enough to accommodate only one person, but when Salim Chishti sat on it its length was miraculously doubled.” These cave spirits are common in European folk-lore. Such are the Buccas and Knockers of the Cornwall mines,” and the Kobolds of Germany. Falstaff speaks of “learning, a mere hoard of gold kept by a devil.” Burton thus sums up the matter: “Subterraneous devils are as common as the rest, and do as much harm. These (saith Munster) are commonly seen among mines of metals, and are some of them noxious; some, again, do no harm. The metal men in many places account it good luck, a sign of treasure and rich ore, when they see them. Georgius Agricola reckons two more notable kinds of them, Getuli and Kobali; both are clothed after the manner of mortal men, and will many times imitate their works. Their office is, as Pictorius and Paracelsus think, to keep treasure in the earth, that it be not all at once revealed.” “

* “North Indian Notes and Queries,” i. Io9 sq. * Ibid., ii. 3.

* Hunt, “Popular Romances,” 82. * “Anatomy of Melancholy,” 126.

BHÚTS TREASURE GUARDIANS.

This leads us to the common idea that Bhûts, like the Cornwall Spriggans,' guard treasure. Ill luck very often attaches to treasure-trove. Some years ago a Chamâr dug up some treasure in the ancient fort of Atranji Khera in the Etah District. He did his best to purge himself of the ill luck attaching to it by giving away a large portion in charity. But he died a beggar, and the whole country-side attributes his ruin to the anger of the Bhûts who guarded the treasure. Some time ago an old man came into my court at Mirzapur and gave up two old brass pots, which he had found while ploughing about a year before. Since then he had suffered a succession of troubles, and his son, who was with him when he found the property, died. He then called a conference of sorcerers to consider the matter, and they advised him to appease the Bhút by giving up the treasure. He further remarked that the Sarkâr or Government doubtless knew some Mantra or charm which would prevent any harm to it from taking over such dangerous property. Occasionally, however, the Bhût is worsted, as in a Kumaun tale, where an old man and his daughter-inlaw tie up a Bhût and make him give up five jars full of gold.

Treasure is often thus kept guarded in sacred caves. In Jaynagar is said to be the treasury of Indradyumna, sealed with a magic seal. He was king of Avanti, who set up the image of Jagannatha in Orissa. The spot presents the appearance of a plain smooth rock, which has been perhaps artificially smoothed. It is said that Indradyumna had a great warrior, whom he fully trusted and raised to the highest honours. At last this man began to entertain the idea of asking his master's daughter in marriage. The king, hearing this, was sorely wroth, but his dependent was too powerful to be easily subdued. So he contrived that a cavern should be excavated, and here he removed all his treasure, and when all was secured he invited the warrior to

| Hunt, loc. cit., 81.

* Ganga Datt Upreti, “ Folk-lore,” 10.

the place. The man unsuspectingly went in, when Indradyumna let fall the trap-door and sealed it with his magic seal; but he was punished for his wickedness by defeat at the hands of the Muhammadans.'

In Ireland the Leprehaun, a little cobbler who sits under the hedge and whose tapping as he mends his shoes may be heard in the soft summer twilight, is a guardian of treasure, and if any one can seize him he will give a pot of gold to secure his escape.

FAIRY GIFTS. In connection with these treasure guardians, we reach another cycle of folk-lore legends, that of gifts or robberies from fairy-land. Professor Rhys, writing of the Celts, well explains the principle on which these are based. “The Celts, in common with all other peoples of Aryan race, regarded all their domestic comforts as derived by them from their ancestors in the forgotten past, that is to say from the departed. They seem, therefore, to have argued that there must be a land of untold wealth and bliss somewhere in the nether world inhabited by their dead ancestors; and the further inference would be that the things they most valued in life had been procured from the leaders of that nether world through fraud or force by some great benefactor of the human race; for it seldom seems to have entered their minds that the powers below would give up anything for nothing." Hence the many tales which thus account for the bringing of fire and other blessings to man.

Of the same type are the usual tales of the fairy gifts. Thus, in one version from Patna we read that one day a corpse came floating down the river, and a Faqîr announced that this was Chân Hâji. He was duly buried and honoured, and in many places he used to keep silver and gold vessels for the use of travellers. If anyone wanted

1 Cunningham, " Archæological Reports,” x. 117. 2 Lady Wilde, “ Legends,” 56; Henderson, “ Folk-lore of the Northern Counties,” 320. sq. ;

“Folk-lore,” iv. 180. “ Lectures," 265.

a vessel, he had only to say so, and one used to float out of the water. But a covetous man appropriated one, and since then the supply has ceased. The same legend is told of the great Karsota lake in Mirzapur, and of numbers of others all over the country. The culprit is generally a Banya, or corn-chandler, the type of sneaking greediness. The same story appears constantly in European folk-lore, as is shown by Mr. Hartland's admirable summary.?

Another version current in India also corresponds with the Western tradition. This is where a person receives a gift from the fairies, which he does not appreciate, and so loses. Thus, in a tale from Râêpur, in the Central Provinces, the goatherd used to watch a strange goat, which joined his flock. One day it walked into the tank and disappeared. While the goatherd was looking on in wonder, a stone was thrown to him from the water, and a voice exclaimed, “This is the reward of your labour." The disappointed goatherd knocked the stone back into the water with his axe. But he found that his axe had been changed by the touch into gold. He searched for the stone, but could never find it again.

In another tale of the same kind, the cowherd tends the cow of the fairy, and, following the animal into a cave, receives some golden wheat. In a third version, the fool throws away a handful of golden barley, and only comes to know of his mistake when his wife finds that some fuel cakes, on which he had laid his blanket, had turned into gold. So, at Pathari, in Bhopal, there lived a Muni, or a Pîr, in a cave unknown to any one. His goat used to graze with the herdsman's flock. The shepherd, one day, followed the goat into the cave and found an old man sitting intent in meditation. He made a noise to attract the saint's attention, who asked the object of his visit. The herdsman asked for wages, whereupon the saint gave him a handful of barley. He took it home, and, in disgust,

1 “North Indian Notes and Queries," ii. 58.
2 " Science of Fairy Tales," chap. vi.
3 “ Archæological Reports,” xxiii. 91.

4 Ibid., xvii. 31 ; X. 72.

« ForrigeFortsæt »