Folktales from Kashmir

selected and edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2002


  1. The Jackal King

  2. The Sagacious Governor

  3. How the Wicked Sons Were Duped

  4. The Old Widow and Her Ungrateful Son

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

The Jackal King

Once upon a time the jackals assembled together to elect a king for themselves. The lions had a king. The tigers had a king. The leopards had a king. The wolves had a king. The dogs and other animals had their kings. So they thought that they too ought to appoint one, who should be their chief, who should guide them in counsel and lead them forth to war.

"Elect your king," cried the old jackal, anxious to begin the meeting.

Whereupon all the jackals shouted, "You are our king! You are our king! You are our senior in age and superior in experience. Who is there so fit as yourself to rule over us?"

And the old jackal consented, and by way of distinction allowed his fur to be dyed blue, and an old broken winnowing fan to be fastened round his neck.

One day the king was walking about his dominions attended by a large number of his jackal subjects, when a tiger suddenly appeared and made a rush at them. The whole company fled and forgot their old king. His majesty tried to escape into a narrow cave, but alas, his head stuck in the hole, by reason of the winnowing fan that was around his neck. Seeing their leader thus, the tiger came and seized him and carried him away to his lair, where it fastened him by a rope so that he could not run away.

In a short while, however, the jackal king did escape and get back to his subjects, who again wished him to be their king and to reign over them.

But the jack had had enough of it, and therefore replied, "No thank you. I am quite satisfied. Once being a king is quite sufficient for a man's lifetime.

The Sagacious Governor

A Muslim owed some rupees to a pandit but refused to pay him. At length the case was carried before the governor, who heard what they had to say, and then put both the men into separate rooms. In a little while he ordered the pandit to appear and asked him whether his claim was a true one. The pandit replied in the affirmative.

"Then take this knife and go and cut off the man's nose for his dishonesty," said the governor.

But the pandit begged to be excused, saying that he did not care so much for the money that he would cut off a man's nose for it.

Ten the governor ordered him to return to his place and, as soon as he was out of hearing, sent for the Muslim and asked him if he owed the pandit anything. The man replied in the negative.

"Then take this knife and go and cut off the pandit's ear for his false accusation," said the governor.

The wicked Muslim took the knife and left with the intention of doing so.

But the governor called him back. "I see," said he. "You must pay the sum demanded by the pandit, and a fine besides. Tell me no more lies. The man who would not scruple to deprive a fellow creature of an ear for a trifle is not the man to be trusted.

How the Wicked Sons Were Duped

A very wealthy old man, imagining that he was on the point of death, sent for his sons and divided his property among them. However, he did not die for several years afterwards; and miserable years many of them were. Besides the weariness of old age, the old fellow had to bear with much abuse and cruelty from his sons. Wretched, selfish ingrates! Previously they vied with one another in trying to please their father, hoping thus to receive more money, but now they had received their patrimony, they cared not how soon he left them -- nay, the sooner the better, because he was only a needless trouble and expense. This, as we may suppose, was a great grief to the old man.

One day he met a friend and related to him all his troubles. The friend sympathized very much with him, and promised to think over the matter, and call in a little while and tell him what to do. He did so; in a few days he visited the old man and put down four bags full of stones and gravel before him.

"Look here, friend," said he. "Your sons will get to know of my coming here today, and will inquire about it. You must pretend that I came to discharge a long-standing debt with you, and that you are several thousands of rupees richer than you thought you were. Keep these bags in your own hands, and on no account let your sons get to them as long as you are alive. You will soon find them change their conduct towards you. Salám. I will come again soon to see how you are getting on."

When the young men got to hear of this further increase of wealth they began to be more attentive and pleasing to their father than ever before. And thus they continued to the day of the old man's demise, when the bags were greedily opened, and found to contain only stones and gravel!

The Old Widow and Her Ungrateful Son

A man refused to support his mother, who was a widow and had no other son. So the poor old woman, not knowing what else to do, went to the governor, and falling on her knees before him, begged him to help her. "Oh my lord," she cried, "I am a widow, and have only one son, who declines to give me a little food and clothing, or even a corner in his house to lie down in. What shall I do? I cannot work. My eyes are failing and my strength is gone. Your honor is famous for wisdom and understanding. Please advise me."

On hearing her complaint the governor summoned the son of the old widow, and sharply upbraided him for not supporting her, to whom he was indebted beyond repayment.

"I do not owe her anything," replied the young man. "She never lent me a pánsa. On the contrary, she owes me very much. I have entirely supported her for the last three years. But now I cannot provide for her any longer. I have a wife and family of my own to feed and clothe and care for."

"For shame!" said the governor. "Is it necessary that I should tell you how much you owe your mother? -- yea, even your life and health and strength? Who carried you about every moment for nine long weary months? Who suckled you for twice that time? Who taught you to walk? Who taught you to talk? Who fed you with food convenient for you? Who saved you from many a fall, from many a burn, and from many a scald? Who pounded the rice and prepared your food for several years, until you were able to marry and get a wife to do these things for you?"

"These are things that every mother has to do and likes to do," said the young man. "She would not wish to live if she could not perform them."

"True to a certain point, but" -- Here the governor stopped, and turning to one of the wazírs in attendance, ordered him to see that this young unthankful fellow pounded four sers of rice with a skin of water fastened round his stomach, and to beat him if he did not accomplish the task well and quickly.

The man soon got tired. The perspiration ran down over his face and neck. At last he could not lift the pestle any more; and the rice was not half pounded. Thwack, thwack, thwack, came down the whip on his bare shoulders, but it was no good, he could not pound another grain. He was then carried before the governor in a dead-alive condition.

"I need not say anything more to you," said the governor to him. "You have learned something of what your mother endured for you. Go and repay the debt with kind words and kind deeds."

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised January 21, 2002.