A Lodha Sabara story

Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

Teller: Sambhu Bhokta [M: (No age mentioned). Tribe: Sabara. Village: Rangmatia, Udala, Mayurbhanj. Date: December 27, 1998. Interviewer: B.K.Tripathy & team. Cassette No. 82, Side A. O. Tr. Pp: 236-253. F.N: Mbj. 1. p. 20. Transcriber: F. B. Puthal. Status: As told (minor editing & emendation; editorial explanations and additions in square brackets). Type: Tale]

Translator: Annapurna Mishra.
: Karmu, Dharmu and the Karam tree ["Karam Raja Bakhani" (Karam King Story)]

    Sambhu Bhokta – his mother is Sami Bhokta. This is the story of Sambhu Bhokta – "Karam Raja Bakhani"

    This starts from our "banjha" [childless] king. A childless king means he did not have any children. Everybody was saying, "O, he is a childless man. One should not look at his face before going for some work. Then he won’t be successful." Every villager was of the same opinion. The king became very sad and said, "We are only two people. Everyone curses us, as we do not have any children. Everyone calls me as "childless king." Let us make a flower garden. He discussed with his queen and made a flower garden. Various types of flower plants were planted. An old lady gardener was appointed to watch the garden. She was watching the flowers.

    At that time, Lord Indra [the king of heaven] was arranging for "Karam" [some celebration]. He said, "We have to observe the ceremony here. But we do not have any flowers. Celebration will be possible when flowers would be arranged. "There was no flower in heaven. So there could not be the "Karam" [celebration]. Then king Indra sent his pair of black bees to get some flowers. The black bee couple came to that flower garden. Every time they were taking two flowers with them to king Indra, each taking one.

    Other Gods and Goddesses present there, were surprised to see such fresh flowers. "From where did you get them?"

    The black bee pair replied, "We have brought them from the earth." They had no idea that the owner of the garden was a childless king. Then King Indra ordered, "All the Gods and Goddesses, go to the earth with my army." The chariots reached on the earth. Then they looted the flower garden. They filled up their chariots with flowers.

    When the old lady gardener saw this, she went running and reported to the king. "O, king and queen, what should we do? From somewhere chariots have come and have spoiled our garden. You come with me. The Gods have come." When the king and the queen reached the spot, they saw not a single flower plant there. Everything was finished. The king ordered the gardener, "You go and catch the chariot of the soldiers. It cannot fly then." The lady gardener touched the chariot and it could not move. The night came to an end. When the morning was about to come, the Gods and Goddesses did not know what to do. They came near the king and said, "We have to arrange the Karam up in heaven. We came to take some flowers. You have seized our chariots. All right, what can we do now?"

    But the king said, "I am helpless. You spoiled the garden. As the gardener has touched the chariot, it won’t move. I cannot help it."

    The Gods and Goddesses said, "Call all the starved people in your country. If they would touch the chariot, it would move." Then the childless king announced, "Those who have not eaten since the night, please all of you come and touch the chariot." But searching in the whole area, not a single starved man could be arranged. One couple of cowherd was there, whose cows were lost. They were sleeping, after being tired. They had searched for their cows here and there. So they were very tired and slept without eating anything. On one side, the old man and on the other side, the old woman was sleeping. They argued with each other when they could not find [their cows] and were sleeping deeply. The Gods and Goddesses requested them, "You please come with us. You will get back your cows and bullocks. You will get back all your things, which you have lost. But please come and touch the chariot."

    The old couple decided, "If we can get back our cattle, why should we not touch the chariot then?"

    "Yes, definitely you will get back your cows." The old couple went with the Gods and Goddesses. They who had remained starving touched the chariot. The moment they touched the chariot, it started moving. The chariot went away flying. The Gods and Goddesses blessed the couple. "You will be blessed with two sons. Also you will get back your lost cows." Truly, the couple got back their lost cow and was blessed with two sons.

    The Gods then went away to the heaven with all the flowers. The king and the queen were there. The queen became pregnant. She gave birth to two children. She named them as Karma and Dharma. They were admitted in school. Karma thought that nothing would be gained if they stayed at home. So they started studying attentively. Then Karma thought that nothing would be gained if they sat idle. So he went to work in a ship. He worked there for a few years, earned some money and came back after a few years, loading his property in the ship. When he reached the shore, he anchored the ship and was whistling. But his family members were not listening. Neither the king or queen, nor Dharma, no one was listening to him. The king, the queen, Dharma – all were inside the house. But no one was paying attention to the blowing of the horn of Karma. When no one listened, Karma himself went to his house, when he came, he saw that all had done the "Karam" [a ritual festival]. The Gods and Goddesses before warned that, if the childless king would be blessed with two sons, he would have to perform "Karam" there. Before leaving the earth, the Gods warned this. All right. Karma and Dharma were born. Karma went away in a shipping job. But Dharma was at home. So they together performed the "Karam" and were dancing happily. When Karma was blowing the horn, as all of them were engrossed in dancing, no one could give attention to that. He came to his house angrily. When he saw everyone dancing, angrily he threw the "Karam" pots into the deep sea. After throwing the pots, he noticed that all their property had vanished. He went to the ship, in which he had brought his valuable property. He saw that everything had vanished. Money, gold, jewelleries, silver – nothing was left. Then karma was shocked and surprised. He became nervous. He had forgotten that it was all for his throwing the pots far into sea. All their property was gone with those pots.

    Karma said, "Oh! What shall I do? The entire ship is empty." The sailor of the ship thought that the ship was unloaded. So he went back into the sea. Karma had to come back to his house. They had no land, money, or gold left with them. They could not get a grain of crops. No rice, watered rice, broken rice, "mudhi" [puffed rice] was left in the kitchen. When they got nothing, the king said, "What happened to all my property? I had a vast amount of property? Where have they gone? Now we have nothing to eat or wear. What can we do?"

    By that time a few hermits came near their doors for begging. When they were begging at the king’s door, the childless king showed his palm to them. "Please study my palm and say why such things have happened to me?"

    Seeing his palm, the hermit started narrating, "Such things happened. Karma and Dharma were born here. Karma went for shipping. When he came back, he threw away the "Karam" pots in to the sea. So all your property went down into the sea. If you can get back those pots, then your property will come back." Saying these lines, the hermits went away. Then the king, queen, Dharma and Karma discussed and said, "Karma, you go and bring back the Karam pots as you have thrown them."

    Karma agreed, "All right, I will go, but I have been staying for months, not eating. What will I eat before I go out?"

    "You have thrown the ‘Karam’. So other than you, no one is to go." Karma told his wife, "All right, no rice is there in the house. Give me the bran. I will manage by eating mouthful of that. Then I shall go away." But to his surprise, he saw that the sack full of bran was lying empty. "What can I do? I have not eaten any thing? How can I go in empty stomach, for so long in the deep sea?"

    "You have to go and get the pots. You have no other way than this," the king forced him. Then karma left the house, praying to God, to get the "Karam". He went on walking and walking and reached near a pond. He was very thirsty and thought of drinking some water from the pond. When he was drinking water, he saw the water full of insects. He cursed himself for not getting a clear drop of water. He came back from the pond. An old man with a God-like appearance, emerged from the pond and asked him where he was going.

    Karam replied, "I am Karam. The king has ordered me to get the Karam pot."

    "Will you help me in cleaning my water?"

    "Oh, sure, I will help you." Then Karam left the place to march forward. On the way he saw a tree full of ripe berries. He was attracted towards the beautiful ripe berries and thought of eating some berries. But when he went near the tree, he saw the tree full of worms. He would not eat one of them. He cursed himself, "Oh, God, what ill luck do I have! I could not eat even two berries!" He started moving again and reached near a jujube tree. The tree was full of red ripe jujube berries. But the same condition was there. Each jujube was full of worms. When he was about to leave, the jujube tree told him, every berry I bear becomes full of worms. No child likes my berries. Will you solve my problem?"

    "Yes, I will." He then reached another place, where many horses were grazing. He planned that if he could ride on a horse, he would reach faster. But when he was trying to ride on a horse, each one was kicking him. He could not ride a single horse. He as usual cursed himself. "Oh, God! What fate I do have! I cannot even ride a horse!" He continued his walking. After some time, he saw many cows at a place. The cowherd had left the cows unwatched. There was a bucket. So karma planned on milking the cow, so that he could get a little milk to drink. But when he was about to milk, the cows kicked him. He blamed his ill fate, as he had to stay starving. The cows said to him, "There is plenty of milk from us, but not a buyer is there. Please think of us."

    "All right, I will take care." He then reached near a village, where people were milling paddy to make flattened rice. He thought that if he would go near them, he could get some flattened rice to eat. When he was going near that, his foot stumbled to the "dhinki" [a milling device; a big log of wood like "L" in shape which is levered so that the projecting piece can be raised when someone steps on the other end of the log; when he lets go the projecting piece strikes the grain in a compatible hole in which grain is put]. So all the paddy was thrown away. The people said, "We are making so much flattened rice but no one buys. Please find someone, who would buy these from us."

    Then he went on and on and reached a garden, where there were many brinjal plants, laden with brinjals. He was so hungry that he decided to eat some raw brinjal. But the moment, he went near the tree, all the brinjals became like a big ball and were hung from the head of the owner of the garden. The owner scolded him, "Who would give you brinjals? The moment you come here, the brinjal plants are riding on my head! We cannot give you brinjals."

    He heaved a mournful sigh. "Oh! What a fate I have! I have to die starving."

    The owner then said, "Please see that the nails of the brinjal plants are piercing me. Do something for me, please? Plenty of brinjals are grown here, but not a single one is there to buy them!"

    "All right, I’ll try to find someone who would buy the brinjal." He then continued his walking. He was very tired. Empty stomach made him more tired. At the time, a crocodile entered the seawater, through a river. The crocodile was sleeping there. When he saw the vast ocean, first he could not understand what to do, how to cross the vast ocean. Everywhere there was water and water. The crocodile asked him, "Which way will you go?"

    He answered, "I am a cursed fellow. I am going by the order of the king to Lanka."

    "All right, if you are going, will you solve my problem! Then I will help you in crossing the sea."

    "What problem do you have?"

    "Please see to it that I always stay floating, while I swim in the sea. My back would never be submerged in water – see to it."

    "All right, I will see to it."

    "Then come and sit on my back." Karma went and sat on the crocodile. The crocodile took him and made him cross the seven seas and set down on Lanka. Karma told him, "You stay here. I will be back soon. Again you will make me cross the seven seas then."

    "All right, I shall wait here till you come. I’ll go nowhere."

    Karma went in search of the Karam king. The fishermen were moving there with their nets. He asked them, "Please tell me where the Karam king lives."

    The fishermen said, "You go further a little." By the side of the Kasi River, they showed the straight road. Karmu went on that road. Then he reached the Karam king. When he bowed his head to the king, the Karam king asked, "In which way have you come?"

    "Which way would I come, Sir? I have faced many problems to come to this place. I have not eaten anything since days. I have come to take you."

    "All right I will go. But I cannot go right now. On the eleventh day of "Bhadraba" [August-September], you do the Karam festival and invite me. Then I will go with you." He thus told thrice. [Karmu also asked him about the problems of the men, things and animals he had encountered on the way and got the reply]. So Karmu came back and reached the crocodile. He saw the crocodile sleeping.

    The crocodile asked, "Did you tell about my problems?"

    "Yes, I have informed. But you make me cross the ocean first. I will inform him after reaching the other bank." He sat on its back and the crocodile made him get down on the other bank. The crocodile asked, "Tell me, what did the Karam king say?"

    "What would he say? All the human beings you have swallowed, their gold, silver jewelleries, which they were wearing, are inside your stomach. If you would vomit them all out, if you could worship the "Brahmins and Baishnabs" [The castes which are supposed to be of higher grade], then your back could be submerged."

    "But where from would I get Brahmins and Baishnabs. You be the Brahmin and Baishnab for me and perform all the rituals." Then the crocodile, vomited out all the gold and silver jewelleries. Karma put all those things inside his bag. Then he continued his journey. Karam king was with him. He reached near the brinjal field. The owner of the field asked, "Hey, you had gone to the Karam king. Did you ask about me?"

    "Oh, yes, I went."

    "What did he say?"

    "What would he say. The two huge brass pots, which you have brought with the money you got by selling the brinjals, should be taken out and be gifted to Brahmins or Baishnabs. Then all your brinjals could be sold out. You have hidden them somewhere, but take them out."

    "I have buried one here and one there. You dig them out, be the Brahmin or the Baishnab and gift yourself the two pots. Karmu dug out the brass pots and the gold, silver coins with them. He carried all the things with him. After walking for some time, he reached the man, who was milling the paddy to make flattened rice. He asked Karmu, "Hey, did you go to the Karam king? What did say about us?"

    "What has he to tell, Sir? The money, which you have hoarded by selling the flattened rice, should be distributed among the Brahmins and the Baishnabs. Then the rest of your store of flattened rice could be sold.

    The man said, "You wait. I shall take out all my money. You be the Brahmin and Baishnab and receive my money." Both of them together dug out two big brass pots. Karmu carried the pots full of money and continued walking. Then he reached near the man, who possessed a lot of cows.

    The man asked him, "Did you ask about me?"

    "Oh, yes, I asked him about you."

    "What did he say?"

    "Karam king said that your milk would be sold smoothly, if you distribute the money which you have stored by selling the milk. The cowherd said, "Wherefrom will I get Brahmins and Baishnabs. You be the Brahmin and Baishnab and accept all my stored money. Karmu took all his money and reached the horse. The horse owner asked, "Hey, did you go near the Karam king and ask about us?"

    "Oh, yes. I went. He said that if you distribute your money, which you have saved by selling the horses, then all your things would be sold." The owner of the horses said, "I have not saved any money. You better take some horses." Karmu selected six or seven horses. He packed all his money and other things in a few sacks and loaded them on the back of the horses. Then he continued his journey. After some time he reached the fig [jujube?] tree. The owner of the fig tree asked, "Did you ask the Karam king about me?"


    "What did he say?"

    "You dig out the brass pots full of Gold, silver and money, which you have buried under this tree. Then distribute them among the Brahmins and Baishnabs, so that your fruits will be eatable. The man dug out all the brass pots and handed over to Karmu and said, "You accept them becoming the Brahmins and Baishnabs." Karmu then reached near the berry tree. The berry tree asked, "What did you ask about me?"

    Karmu said, "One should dig out the brass pots under the berry and should be given to Brahmins and Baishnabs. Then your berries would be eating worthy."

    "Where will we go? You dig out the pots and take them." Karmu carried them also. Then he walked on and on and on. Then he reached near the pond. The pond asked, "What did Karam king say about me?"

    He said, "Four big brass pots are buried under the soil at your four corners. If you dig out and gift them to Brahmins and Baishnabs, everyone would like to drink water from you."

    "But where will I search for Brahmins and Baishnabs? You go and dig out the pots and take them away." Karmu dug out the brass pots and loaded them on the horses. Then he went on and reached his house. Everyone welcomed him with flowers. He kept carefully all the valuable property he had brought. His house was filled with gold, silver and money. They lived happily then.

(The teller heard the story from his father-in-law).


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