Reading Notes: Bengali Folktales Part A

The Evil Eye of Sani
-Sani (also known as Saturn) god of bad luck
-Lakshmi goddess of good luck
-Sani and Lakshmi argue over who is higher in rank
-As all the gods and goddesses are equals, they decide to find a human to settle the dispute
-Sribatsa is the wise and rich man they seek out
-He places Sani on a silver stool and Lakshmi on a gold one
-Sani infers that this means Sribatsa values him less and casts the evil eye upon him
-Sribatsa and his wife leave their home; they come to an uncrossable river with a ferryman
-The ferryman takes tries to transport the mattress they have brought and stored all their money and jewels in, but a giant wave overtakes the ferry and it disappears
-Sribatsa and his wife Chintamani travel to different villages, but each time become loathed by the villagers for their superior skills
-Chintamani is carried off by boatmen who believe she has special powers
-Sribatsa follows the river until he finds a cow that nourishes him with milk day and night, and produces manure of pure gold
-Chintamani prays to Lakshmi to be made ugly so that she does not lose her chastity with the boatmen
-She becomes vile and they throw her into stowage
-Eventually the boat returns to where Sribatsa has piled his gold bricks
-He is thrown into stowage with Chintamani
-Sribatsa is thrown overboard for winning at dice and intimidating the boatmen, landing in a formerly barren garden that suddenly flowers again with his presence
-The woman who owned the garden took him to the king, who made him collector of river tolls
-Through this position he was able to rescue his wife and his gold, and be restored to his former glory


The Boy whom Seven Mothers Suckled
-A king with seven barren wives
-Hears of a magical tree with seven mangoes
-He plucks each one and gives them to his wives, who all become pregnant
-The king encounters a young maiden in the woods who is secretly an evil Rakshasi
-She requests each queen is blinded and killed
-Their eyes are all plucked out, but the minister spares their lives and hides them in a cave
-Each queen in turn gives birth, kills the infant, and gives a portion to each of the other queens
-The exception is the seventh queen, who saves her portions to give out when her child is born
-By doing so, she spares this child's life
-The seven mothers agree to help nurse the child, who becomes strong and hearty
-Back in the palace, the Rakshasi wife eats up the royal family and all the servants, and then goes out and begins eating citizens
-The boy of seven mothers becomes the king's faithful servant and avoids being made into a meal
-At the word of the Rakshasi he travels to seek her mother, whom she has written a letter with instructions to kill the boy
-But the boy destroys the letter and instead is made a guest of the Rakshasi's mother
-Discovers a bird that contains the life of the Rakshasi
-Kills the bird by tearing each limb off, the corresponding limb of the Rakshasi detaching at the same time
-Is recognized as the rightful heir, and whose mothers get their eyesight back



A plethora of evil eyes. Source: Flickr

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