Village Folk-tales of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), vol. 1-3

by Henry Parker | 1910 | 406,533 words

This folk-tale entitled “the story of sokka” is gathered from oral sources sources, tracing its origin to ancient Ceylon (Sri Lanka). These tales are often found to contain similarities from stories from Buddhism and Hinduism. This is the story nr. 259 from the collection “stories of the western province and southern india”.

IN a certain country there was a man called Sokka, it is said. For the purpose of this man’s living, catching a monkey (Wan̆dura) and having made it dance, he began to get money. [After] getting money in that way, when Sokka, drinking arrack (palm spirit) very well, is walking to that and this hand, the monkey sprang off and went away. , After that, Sokka, having by means of the money which remained again drunk arrack very well and become drunk, fell into the ditch. Thereupon many flies began to settle on this man’s body. This Sokka having become angry at it, when he struck at the flies with both hands a great many flies fell dead.

In a little time his intoxication having evaporated his sense came. Thorough sense having come in that manner, when he looked round about he saw near him the quantity (rasiya) of flies that had died.

While he was there, thinking,

“Æyi, Bola, at one blow with my hand they were deprived of life to this extent; isn’t it so ?”

a very foolish man who dwelt in that village came to go near this Sokka.

The man having seen Sokka asked,

“Friend, what are you doing ?”

Thereupon Sokka says,

“Ade ! What art thou saying ? I being a person who has now killed ten or fifteen, thou art not enough even to put on my bathing-cloth for me.”[1]

This foolish man having become frightened by the very extent [of the deaths] that he heard of in this word of Sokka’s, began to run off. As he was running he met with yet a man who is going on the road; he asks at the hand of this foolish man,

“What, friend, are you running for ?”

Then this fool says,

“Friend, a man who killed ten or fifteen men tried to kill me. Because of it I am running through fear,”

he said. At that time that man also, through the extent [of the deaths] that he heard of in that speech having become afraid, began to run off.

As these two persons were running they said thus to the men going on the road, that is,

“On the road there is a great murderer. Don’t any one go.”

After that, having [thus] made Sokka a great furious one, it became public. The King of the city also got to know of it.

Well then, the King having caused this Sokka to be brought, [said],

“You are a dexterous swordsman and a dexterous fighter, they say. Is it true ?”

Then Sokka says,

“O King, Your Majesty, when I have struck with one hand of mine, should there be ten or fifteen staying on that side the men fall dead.”

Thereupon the King asks Sokka,

“If you are a dexterous man to that degree, will you come to fight with the first dexterous fighter of my war army ?”

Sokka says,

“When ten or fifteen are dying by one haiid of mine, what occupation is there [for me] with one ! I am now ready for it.”

The King says,

“When for three days time is going by, on the third day you having fought in the midst of a great assembly, the person out of the two who conquers I will establish in the post of Chief of the Army (Sena-Nayaka).”

Sokka was pleased at it.

The King having put these two persons into two rooms, placed guards.

While they Were thus, Sokka having spoken to the dexterous fighter, says,

“You having come for the fight with me will not escape. To this and this degree I am a dexterous one at fighting. Fight in the midst of the assembly, and don’t be shy.”

The dexterous fighter having become frightened at Sokka’s word, got out of the chamber by some means br other, and not staying in the city, bounded off and went away.[2]

When the third day arrived, the whole of the forces dwelling in the city assembled together to look at the fight of these two persons. Thereupon, only Sokka arrived there. Then when Sokka became more and more famous the King was favouring him.

During the time while he is thus, a war arrived for the King. The King says to Sokka,

“We must do battle with a war army of this extent. Because of it, having gone together with my war army can you defeat the enemies ?”[3]

Sokka says,

“I don’t want Your Honour’s army. Having gone quite alone I can defeat them.”

Thereupon the King said,

“What do you require ?”

Sokka, asking for a very rapidly running horse and a very sharp-edged sword, mounted upon the back of the horse, and having bounded into the middle of the hostile army who were building the enemy’s encampment, driving on the horse to the extent possible, he began to cut on that and this hand (e me ata). Sokka having cut down as many as possible, stringing a head, also, on his very sword, came to the royal palace.

Thereupon, the forces (pirisa) who were building the encampment, thought,

“If so much damage came from one man, how much will there be from the other forces !”

Having thought [this], they bounded off and ran away.

Then the King having been pleased, married and gave his daughter, also, to Sokka, and gave him much wealth also.

During the time while Sokka is dwelling in this manner at the royal house, Sokka thought to drink arrack, [after] going and taking the ornaments that his wife is wearing. Having thought it, as though he had an illness he remained lying on a bed, not eating, not drinking.[4] Thereupon his wife having approached near him asked the cause of the illness.

At that time Sokka asks,

“Dost thou think that I have obtained thee (ti) without doing anything (nikan) ? To obtain thee I undertook a great charge. The charge is that thou and I (tit mat) having gone to such and such a mountain must offer gifts.”

Thereupon the Princess says,

“Don’t be troubled. Tomorrow we two persons having gone [there], let us fulfil the charge,”

she said.

Sokka having become pleased at it, on the following day, with a great retinue also, they went to fulfil the charge.

Having gone in this manner, and caused the whole of the retinue to halt on the road, these two persons went to the top of the mountain. Sokka thereupon says,

“I have come here now for the purpose of killing thee, so that, having killed thee, taking thy ornaments I may drink arrack.”

Then the Princess asked,

“If I and the ornaments belong to Your Honour,[5] for what purpose will you kill me?”

At that time Sokka said,

“[Even] should that be so, I must kill thee.”

The Princess thereupon says,

“If Your Honour kill me now, fault will occur to you at my hand; because of it please bear with me until the time when you forgive me,”

she said.

Having said thus while remaining in front of him, and having knelt, she made obeisance. Then having gone behind his back, and exhibited the manner of making obeisance, she seized his neck, and having pushed him threw Sokka from the mountain, down the precipice. Sokka having become scattered into dust, died.

After that, the Princess turned back with her retinue, and went to the royal palace.

Western Province.



In The Orientalist, vol. ii, p. 176, the foolish Adikar (Minister) mentioned in the first note after the folk-tale numbered 229, was sent (on account of his destruction of the lion) at the head of an army, against an enemy who had defeated the best generals. His horse bolted and carried him towards the enemy’s troops, who ran ofi when they observed his approach. He then rejoined and brought up his men, captured the contents of the camp, returned to the King with it, was handsomely rewarded, and retained the royal favour until his death.

In The Jataka, No. 193 (vol. ii, p. 82), a woman in order to kill her husband pretended that she had taken a vow to make an offering to a hill spirit, and said,

“Now this spirit haunts me; and I desire to pay my offering.”

They climbed up to the hill-top, taking the offering. She then declared that her husband being her chief deity she would first walk reverently round him, saluting him and offering flowers, and afterwards make the offering to the mountain spirit. She placed her husband facing a precipice, and when she was behind him pushed him over it.

In No. 419 (vol. iii, p. 261), it was a robber who took his wealthy wife who had saved his life, to a mountain top, on the pretence of making an offering to a tree deity. They went with a great retinue, whom he left at the foot of the hill. When they arrived at the precipice at the summit, he informed her that he had brought her in order to kill her, so as to run off with her valuable jewellery. She said she must first make obeisance to him on all four sides, and when she was behind him threw him down the precipice, after which she returned home with her retinue.

In Old Deccan Days (M. Frere), p. 209, a potter who had caught a tiger, and had consequently been appointed Commander-in-Chief, made his wife tie him firmly on his horse when he was ordered to defeat an enemy's troops. His horse bolted towards the enemy. In the hope of checking it, he seized a small tree which came up by the roots, and holding this he galloped forward, frightening the opposing force so much that they all ran away, abandoning their camp and its contents. Peace was made, and he received great honours.

In Indian Nights’ Entertainment (Swynnerton), p. 210, the same story is given, the hero being a weaver.

In Sagas from the Far East, p. 181, a poor weaver who had asked to marry the daughter of the King of India, was sent to attack an enemy who was invading the kingdom. His troops refused to fight under him, so he went on alone. His horse bolted towards the enemy, he seized a young tree which was pulled up by the roots and with which he knocked down several of the opposing troops. The rest fled, throwing away their arms and armour, and he loaded a horse with it and returned to the King in triumph. Afterwards he killed by accident a great fox and seven demons, became the King’s son-in-law, and ruled half the kingdom.

In The Indian Antiquary, vol. xiv, p. 109, in a South Indian story by Natesha Sastri, a man who had accidentally saved a Princess whom some robbers were abducting, was sent to attack the enemy’s troops who had invaded the kingdom. The horse given to him was wild, so he was tied on it. It galloped towards the enemy, swam across a river at which he seized a palmira tree that was about to fall, and the enemy, seeing him approaching with it, ran away. This version is also given in The Orientalist, vol. ii, p. 102 ££., by Miss A. R. Corea. According to this Sinhalese tale the man succeeded to the throne at the death of the King, having previously been made Commander-in-Chief.

In Cinq Cents Contes et Apologues (Chavannes), vol. i, p. 50, a woman who wished to kill her husband pretended to have a headache, for which it was necessary to offer prayers on a mountain to a local deity. She accompanied her husband to a precipice, made him stand facing the sun, went round him several times, and then pushed him over. He was saved by falling into a tree.

In vol. i, p. X12, a woman who had fallen in love with a cripple determined to kill her husband, who had saved her life. On the pretence of assisting him to collect fruits she accompanied him up a mountain and seized an opportunity to push him over a precipice. He was saved by a local deity.

In vol. ii, p. 140, there is an account of the weaver who frightened the enemy’s troops when those of his own side were being defeated ; these returned and gained a complete victory. The man was made Minister, with rank next the King.

Footnotes and references:


Ambude gahagantawat. Compare p. 297, note.


Up to this point the story is a variant of the tale called “Sigiris Sinno the Giant,” in vol. i, p. 312.


The meaning is, “Can you take my war army and defeat the enemies ?” To express this in Sinhalese the narrator should have said, “Taking my war army, can you,” etc.


Noka nom̆bi.