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

by Henry Parker | 1910 | 406,533 words

This folk-tale entitled “the destiny prince” 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. 265 from the collection “south indian stories”.

Story 265 - The Destiny Prince

IN a certain country a King had two Princes. After the two Princes became big, calling them near the King the King asked both,

“Is Destiny the greatest thing or not ?”[1]

At that time the big Prince said,

“Destiny is the greatest (widi lokuyi)”;

the young Prince said,

“It is insufficiently great (madi lokuyi).”

Because the big Prince said,

“Destiny is the greatest,”

the King commanded that they should behead and kill him.

Thereupon the Prince’s mother, having given him a little money, and said,

“Son, go thou to a country thou likest,”

sent him away. Then the Prince having looked for a country to proceed to, went away.

When he is going on the path, the men whom he meets ask,

“Where are you going ?”

Thereupon the Prince, not saying another speech, gives answer to the talk, saying,


However much they speak, this Prince, except that he says,


does not give a different reply. While giving replies in this manner, this Prince walks through various countries.

In yet [another] city, a daughter of the King, and a daughter of the Minister, and a daughter of a rich Hettiya called the Money Hettiya, these three having been born on one and the same day and the three having gone to one school learning letters, after they became big gave presents to the teacher.

What of their giving presents to the teacher ! Regarding the teacher’s instructing these three children, it was in name only. There was a chief scholar; it was the scholar indeed who taught the letters to all these three children. Notwithstanding that it was so, they did not give him presents or anything.

Because of it he being grieved at it, and thinking that if there should be a word which the King’s daughter says, the Minister’s Princess and the Money Hettiya’s daughter hearken to it, he sent a letter in this manner to the royal Princess:

“O Royal Princess, except that I taught you three persons the sciences [for him], our teacher did not teach them. Having tried so much and taught you three, at your not thinking of me I am much grieved.”

He wrote [thus] and sent it.

The royal Princess had ordered the Minister’s daughter and the Money Hettiya’s daughter every day in the morning to come to the royal palace. Therefore the two persons, having stayed at home only at night, in the morning arrive at the royal palace.

One day, while these very three are stopping and playing at the royal palace, a man brought a letter and gave it into the royal Princess’s hand. Thereupon the royal Princess having broken open the letter, when she looked [in it] the party’s second teacher [had written] that he was displeased.

Then the Princess said thus to the Minister’s daughter and the Money Hettiya’s daughter:

“Look. Omitting to give our presents or anything to our second teacher who took much trouble and taught us, and having given presents to our big teacher, when coming away we did not even speak, he has written. It is indeed foolishness at our hand. Because of it, let us write anything we want to send, and send a letter [to him]. Having sent it let us give anything he asks for,”

she spoke [to them]. [Thus] speaking, she wrote and sent:

“Anything you ask we will give. Please write what thing you want.”

Thereupon, the letter having gone the party’s second teacher received it. Having received it, owing to the form of the letter that person writes,

“I want nothing. Because you three said you will give anything I want, I am coming to marry you three persons. What do you say about it ?”

He wrote and sent [this].

The letter having gone, the royal Princess, together with the other persons also, received it. When they looked at the letter, the party perceived that the letter they wrote was wrong. Perceiving it, the royal Princess said,

“Comrades,[2] the word that we wrote and sent was wrong. The second teacher has sent letters [asking] how he is to come to marry us three. Because we made a mistake, and as we cannot tell lies, let us appoint a day and send [word].”

Thereupon the two persons gave p3rmissioi. for such a word [to be sent].

She wrote and sent the letter:

“To-morrow night, at twelve, you must come to the palace; at one you must come to the Minister’s house; at three, you must come to the Money Hettiya’s house.”

Having written it, [after] sending it in this manner the three persons making ready distilled Attar water[3] and several sweet drugs to put on his body when he comes, and priceless food, waited for him.

That day, that royal Prince who is walking along saying “Destiny,” coming to the city at night time and having become hungry, remained sleeping near the gate[4] of that palace. The second teacher loitered a little in coming. After the royal Prince had gone to sleep during the whole night [up to midnight], placing food and fragrant sorts on a tray in her own hands, and having come near the gate of the palace and felt about, when [the Princess] looked the Prince who says “Destiny” was there.

At that time the royal Princess, thinking he was the second teacher, said,

“What are you sleeping for ? Get up.”

That Prince, saying,


being unable to arise [through sleepiness,] remained lying down. Thereupon the royal Princess, touching his body with her hand, made him arise; and having given him this food to eat, and having sprinkled distilled Attar water on his body, and having complied with immoral practice,[5] the Princess went to the palace. Then the Prince who says “Destiny” was sleeping [again] near the gate of the palace.

At that time the second teacher came.

Having come there, he asked that Prince who says “Destiny,”

“Who are you, Ada ?”

Then that Prince said,


“What is, Ada, Destiny ?” he asked. Then again he gave answer,


At this next occasion, having said,

“What Destiny, Ada!”

he pushed him away.

Thereupon the Destiny Prince [having gone] near the gate of the Minister’s house, was sleeping [there]. Then the Minister’s daughter having come, asked,

“Who are you ?”

The Prince said,


Then the Minister’s daughter said,

“What is it you call Destiny ? On account of the letter you sent, the royal Princess and we two also, having spoken have made ready. Eat these things quickly; I must go.”

Thereupon the Prince said,


Then the Minister’s daughter having touched him on the body and caused him to arise, gave him the food to eat, and having put distilled Attar water and several sweet drugs on the Prince’s body, and complied with immoral practice, went away. The Destiny Prince went to sleep there.

At that time the second teacher, having stayed looking about near the palace and the Princess not being [there], thinking he must go even to the Minister’s house, came to the Minister’s house. At that time the Destiny Prince was there. The second teacher having gone, asked this one,

“Who are you, Ada ?”

He said,


Thereupon having said,

“What Destiny! Be off!”

and having beaten him he drove him away. Having driven him away the second teacher stayed there looking about.

The Destiny Prince having gone to the house of the Money Hettiya, there also stayed sleeping near the gate. Then the Hettiya’s daughter having come with sandalwood scent and distilled Attar water, asked,

“Who are you ?”

At that time the Prince said,


The Hettiya’s daughter having said,

“What Destiny! Get up,”

touched his body, causing him to arise; and having given him food also, putting distilled Attar water on his body, complied with immoral practice, and went into the house. The Destiny Prince went to sleep there.

That second teacher having stayed looking about at the Minister’s house, and having said [to himself] that because the Minister’s daughter did not come he must go even to the Money Hettiya’s house, came there. At that time, the Destiny Prince was sleeping there also.

Then the second teacher asked,

“Who are you, Ada?”

Thereupon the Prince said,



“What Destiny, Ada !”

and having struck him a blow, he pushed him away. Thereupon the Destiny Prince having gone, remained sleeping in a grass field more than four miles away. That second teacher having stayed there watching until it was becoming light, went to his city.

On the following day morning this fragrance [from the scents sprinkled on the Prince] having gone through the whole city, when the King was making inquiry [he learnt] that this Princess, too, had put on this scent. Thereupon the King thought,

“Besides the Minister no other person comes to my palace. It is a work of his, this,”

he got into his mind.

The Minister thinking,

“Besides the King no other person comes to my house; this is a disgraceful step (kulappadiyak) of the King’s,”

got angry.

The Money Hettiya, thinking,

“Except that the King comes, no one else comes to my house; because of that, this is indeed a disgraceful step of the King’s,”

got angry.

After that, the whole three having met at one place, speaking about this, when they were making inquiry the fragrance of the distilled Attar water on the body of the Destiny Prince came [to them]. Then seizing him and having come back, for the fault that he committed they appointed to kill him.

At that time the royal Princess and the other two persons having come before them, said,

“It is not an offence [of his]. After you kill that man please kill us three”;

[and they gave a full account of the matter]. Before they said this word the Destiny Prince said even more words than anyone was saying and saying.

After that, the King also having freed him from death, asked the Destiny Prince,

“Of which village are you; of which country ?”

Then the Destiny Prince said,

“I am of such and such a city, the son of the King. One day our father the King asked me and my younger brother,

‘Is Destiny the greatest thing or not ?’

Thereupon I said,

‘Destiny is the greatest’;

younger brother said,

‘It is not the greatest.’

Because I said,

‘Destiny is the greatest,’

he appointed me for death. I having run away from there, I dwelt in this manner, walking through a multitude of cities.

When they were speaking, I replied,


At that time the King and Minister, including also the Hettiya, speaking together, said,

“This will be done to this one by the Gods. Therefore let us marry these three to this one; we did not marry and give the three to him.”

They married them accordingly, [and] the King handed over charge of the King’s kingdom [to him]. After that, he remained exercising the kingship in a good manner, with justice.

Another King having gone to the city in which the King the Prince’s father stayed, [after] fighting him and taking the city, banished the King and his Queen and Prince. After that, the three persons having come away arrived at the city where the Destiny Prince was ruling, and stayed there, obtaining a living by breaking firewood and selling it.

The Destiny Prince one day walking in the city, when returning saw that this King his father, and younger brother, and mother are selling firewood. Having seen them, and having come to the palace without speaking, he sent a messenger to tell the three firewood traders to come. The messenger having gone told the three firewood traders that the King says they are to come.

Thereupon the three persons becoming afraid, and thinking,

“Is selling firewood of the jungle of the Gods and getting a living by it, wrong ?”

in fear went to the royal palace.

Then the Destiny Prince asked,

“Of what city are you ?”

The party said,

“We were exercising the kingship of such and such a city. Another King having gone [there], oppressing us and seizing the kingdom, told us to go away. Because of that, having come away and arrived at this city, we remain getting a living, breaking firewood in the jungle.”

Thereupon the Destiny King asked,

“When you were staying at that city how many children had you ?”

The firewood trader said,

“I had two Princes.”

Then the Destiny King asked,

“Where then is the other Prince ? Did he die ?”

The firewood trader said,

“That Prince did not die. One day, when I was asking that Prince and this Prince, ‘Is Destiny the greatest thing or not ?’ the Prince said, ‘Destiny is the greatest’; this Prince said, ‘It is insufficiently great.’ Because of it I sent him out of the kingdom.”

Thereupon the Destiny Prince, saying,

“It is I myself who am that Prince,”

told them the circumstances that had occurred to him. Both parties after that having become sorrowful, remained living [there], protecting that city in happiness.

Immigrant from Malayalam, Southern India.
(Written in Sinhalese, and partly related in that language.)



In the Jataka story No. 544 (vol. vi, p. 117), the King of Videha sums up the Hindu belief in predestination from the day of a person’s birth, as follows: " There is no door to heaven: only wait on destiny: all will at last reach deliverance from transmigration.”

His daughter afterwards illustrated the Buddhist doctrine that a person’s destiny depends on his acts and thoughts in his present life as well as in previous ones:—" As the balance properly hung in the weighing-house causes the end to swing up when the weight is put in, so does a man cause his fate at last to rise if he gathers together every piece of merit little by little.”

The Maha Bhamta (Santi Parva, cclviii), states that all gods must inevitably become mortals, and all mortals must become gods; and also (ccxcix) that whatever one’s lot may be it is the result of deeds done in previous lives.

The inevitable action of Karma is well exhibited in a story in Folk-Tales of the Telugus (G. R. Subramiah Pantulu), p. 59, in which when the God sh iva and his wife Parvati saw a poverty-stricken Brahmana on his way home, and the latter wished to give him riches, Shiva remarked that Brahm'a had not written on his face [at his birth] that he must enjoy wealth. To test this, Parvati threw down on the path a heap of a thousand gold muhrs (£1,500). When the Brahmana got within ten yards of it, he was suddenly struck by the idea that he would see if he could walk along like a blind man, so he shut his eyes, and did not open them until he had gone past the money.

In the Katha Sarit Sagara (Tawney), vol. i, p. 280, a Princess who had arranged through a confidante to meet a man in a temple at night, met there instead a Prince who was accidentally spending the night there, and without recognising who he was, accepted him as her husband, and afterwards returned to the palace. On the following day the Prince appeared before the King, who formally bestowed the Princess on him, one of the Ministers remarking to the King, " Fate watches to insure the objects of auspicious persons.”

In Folk-Tales of Kashmir (Knowles), 2nd ed., p. 327, a King asked his two daughters which was the greater, Karma (fate, as the effect of acts in previous lives), or Dharma (righteousness). The younger said “Karma,” the elder, “Dharma.” He was so angry that he married the younger one to a young Brahmana thief; but he became very wealthy in a miraculous manner, and afterwards invited his father-in-law to a feast at which he was waited on by his daughter, the disgraced Princess, whom he did not recognise. At the end of it she told him who they were, and he promised to give the kingdom to her husband.

In The Kathakoça (Tawney), p. 82, a Princess had as her companions the daughters of a merchant and a gardener who were born on the same day as herself. When the Princess was married she requested that her two comrades might be married to the same young man, and this was done.

Footnotes and references:


Widi lokuda madi lokuda, lit., Is Destiny great or insufficiently great ?


The word in the text is golle, “O party.”


Attara pini-diya.




Anacara darmme yedi. In the two later instances the second word is dharmmayehi.