Story of The Barber

Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

Teller: Senapati Dayanidhi

[M 45. Tribe: Bhathudi. Village: Khalladi, Rudia, Mayurbhanj. Date: Apr. 13, 2000. Interviewer: Fani B. Puthal. Cassette No. 221, Side A. O. Tr. Pp.: 10,296-10,316. F.N: Mbj 4. Transcriber: Fanibhusan Puthal. Status: As told (minor editing; editorial explanations and additions in square brackets). Type: Tale.]

Translator: Biyotkesh Tripathy & Bishwabandita Guru.


There was a prince and a minister’s son. They discussed about Lord Rama’s living in dense forests for 14 years and achieving a lot of things. They decided to go to the jungle and engage themselves in asceticism. ‘We haven’t yet achieved perfection. Let’s go and achieve it.’ Both of them told to each other. Then they left for the jungle.

They saw a huge big tree on their way. They decided to spend their night there and climbed up the tree. There was a big mountain to their north. They could not sleep in the night. So both of them were watching. They saw that a light emerged from the mountain and proceeded some distance towards the jungle. Nothing was visible behind that light. The light was greenish. That was not the moonlight. It might have been some other light. Both the friends tried to find out what that was. After watching for a long time they guessed that the light must have emanated from a snake gem. Then they decided to go and earn their livelihood. One of them suggested leaving the place before morning. ‘We have already seen the snake-gem; there must be so many wild animals who may eat us. We don’t have any weapons also for protection,’ one of them said.

The other questioned where they should go.

Then the first replied, ‘Let’s go to the Jambha Island nearer to this place. There is a kingdom called "Twenty-four Hour King’s Land." This seems to be a nice place and we have a lot to learn from this place.

The other one asked, ‘What shall we do here?’

His friend replied, ‘We’ll apply our education here and earn our livelihood.’

The minister’s son had some religious and intuitive capabilities. But the prince lacked all these. Going on in this way, when they finished all the money brought by them, they reached that kingdom.

They asked the king if he needed any hardworking person. The king told them that he could give them leaf-full rice and a wage of one paisa. Both of them said yes to that proposal.

After some days the minister’s son achieved perfection. His marriage was finalized with a "barhabati" girl [girl of the kingdom of elephants and boars], a "parabati" girl [girl from the kingdom of pigeons] and an "Agnidevi" girl [Fire goddess]. He had been trained in "Betala Jantra."

The king’s son stayed like a servant in the palace. He laboured hard to earn his livelihood. One day the minister’s son went pay a visit to his friend. He hadn’t met him for the last 10-12 years. He met a barber there. That day was his "Jagar puja" (all-night sleepless worship). All his wives trimmed their nails and got themselves ready for the worship. By that time the minister had already earned a lot of wealth and had spiritually transformed into an "Astanga Jogi" (ascetic who had full control over eight limbs: hands, feet, thighs, heart, brain, sight, intelligence and speech).

The barber at that time saw three women who were more beautiful even from their queen. He said, ‘Does Twenty-four Hour Rule exist in this kingdom? Who is this bear having three wives? I must complain of this to the king. The king will take two of them and I’ll take one.’

Then he went to the king and explained to him everything. He told him that the three queens of that person were so beautiful that even the queen could not be compared to their feet also. The king got furious and ordered the barber to finish up his work within twenty-four hours. He gave the minister’s son twenty-four hours’ notice to meet him.

He met the minister’s son and told him that he looked like a prince. He lived in the kingdom but did not meet anybody. He was a pious man. So he had to dig a pond within 24 hours. Otherwise he had to be driven out from the village. He would not also be entitled to any of his property or take his wives back with him. The minister’s son became sad and remained there.

The king’s son was very much jealous of him. He said, ‘How wealthy the minister’s son in now! Both of us came together. But apart from all the wealth, he has acquired three wives also. What is my position? Till today I’m a servant of the king’s palace.’

Then the minister’s son was called in and ordered not only to dig a pond overnight, but before the morning he was also asked to fill that pond with water. Otherwise within twenty-four hours he would be driven away from the kingdom. The minister’s son was very sad. That day was the Barhabati girl’s turn as the wife of the minister’s son.

She asked, ‘Did you rest sir?’

He replied, ‘How can I? The king is going to take you all away from me within twenty-four hours. The king has ordered me to dig a pond in his palace garden. Otherwise I’ll be thrown out of the kingdom.’ The wife heard him out and told him not to worry. She had got a wild boar (barha) in her dowry. She told her husband that she would send the wild bear to her father.

The wild bear went to the king and gave him the message of his son-in-law. He had requested the king to send one lakh wild boars who would dig the pond before morning.

The king immediately sent one lakh wild boars to the kingdom where his son-in-law had been caught in a crisis. The wild boars dug the pond in no time. Then water oozed out and filled the pond before morning and flew inside the king’s palace also.

The king shouted, ‘What is this?’

‘Sir,’ his men said, ‘water is flowing everywhere.’

He had his barber. But the barber’s plan was foiled.

The barber came to the king to tell him that they could not beat him like this. Then he thought and said, ‘Sir, many of your ancestors have died and gone to the other kingdom.’

‘Yes they have. My father’s gone, my grandfather too is gone and my great grandfather before them, quite some time back.’

‘That they have. But please order him now to go to the other world to get information about your ancestors who have died much before he has to get information about their beard, tangled hair, matted hair etc. Otherwise he will be kicked out of this kingdom.’

The old king said, ‘You have given a very good idea. He has to go to heaven and collect information about our fourteen generations.’ He ordered the minister’s son to do like this.

The minister’s son asked the king, "How can I go there, sire? I want twelve quintals of ghee and 5 trucks of wood for that.’

The king asked, ‘What for are those stuffs needed?’

The minister’s son replied, ‘They will make the "hutasana" [raging fire]. I’ll go to the heaven through hutasana [fire] and for that all those stuffs are required.’

The king immediately provided him what he needed and ordered him to leave for the heaven the next day without delay.

(Side A ends.)

(Sidee B starts)

The wife of the barber became very happy. She thought, ‘These people are leaving for heaven. Will they come back from the heaven? Never.’

But the wild boars had dug a tunnel from the pyre to there house. Again there was a tunnel from their house to the king’s palace. Nobody knew that. When the wood in the pyre started burning, the minister’s son jumped into it and entered inside the tunnel beneath. [Everyone thought he had died, but had proceeded straight to his house by the tunnel]. After 6-7 days he blackened his body and reached the king, [to everyone’s surprise].

He said, ‘Sir, please take my regards. I met you fourteen generations. Their moustaches and beards have grown and there is no facility to cut them. So please send an efficient barber to cut them.’

The king thought who must be a good barber. Then he remembered about the barber of his village who was very efficient, his advisor. The king told the barber regarding that episode and ordered him to go to his ancestors in heaven immediately to shave them. There was no argument with the barber to cut the kings words.

He asked the king how could he go there and the king replied, ‘Like the minister’s son.’

According to the minister’s advice wood (5-7 trucks) were set at a place. The fire was flamed with the ghee [clarified butter]. Then the barber jumped into the fire and died instantly. He did not come back again. The king awarded the minister’s son and urged for his requirement in his kingdom. He requested the minister’s son to take the leadership in creating a righteous kingdom. The prince, the king and the minister’s son became friends thereafter. That kingdom was named Hansadhwaja [Swan Kingdom] afterwards. There were no poor men seen in that kingdom henceforth. After the barber died, peace reigned in that kingdom.



Illustrations: Sarasi Das