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

by Henry Parker | 1910 | 406,533 words

This folk-tale entitled “how a prince was chased by a yaksani, and what befel” 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. 24 from the collection “stories told by the cultivating caste and vaeddas”.

Story 24 - How A Prince Was Chased By A Yaksani, And What Befel

A PRINCE went for hunting-sport. As he was going, a Yaksani (female Yaka) who was living in the midst of the forest, chased him, saying that she was going to eat the Prince, and drove the Prince down the path. The Prince having gone running, went bounding through the middle of a city. The Yaksani followed him in the disguise of a woman.

The King of the city having seen them, sent the Ministers, and told them to look what it was about. The Ministers asked the Yaksani who was bounding behind him,

“What is that for ?”

The Yaksani said,

“My husband having quarrelled with me and left me, is running away. I am running after him because of it.”

The Ministers then brought her before the King, and having seen the beauty of the Yaksani, the King was pleased with her, and said,

“If you should not go with him it does not matter ; stay here.”

So the King, having prepared another house for the Yaksani, and having married her, establishing her in the office of Chief Queen, she remained there.

While she was there, this Yaksani having gone like a thief during the time when all were sleeping, and killed and eaten the men of the city, brought a few of the bones, and placed them in a heap at the back of the houses in which the twelve Queens of the King slept.

When a little time had gone by in this manner, the men of the city came to the King, and saying,

“Since you have brought and are keeping this Yaksani this city is altogether desolate,”

made obeisance. Then the King made inquiry into the matter.

Then that Yaksani said,

“Ane ! O Lord, Your Majesty, I indeed do not know about that, but I did indeed see that thief who eats human flesh, although I did not tell you.”

The King asked,

“Who is it ?”

The Yaksani said,

“If Your Majesty should look behind . the houses of the twelve Queens you can ascertain.”

When the King went there and looked, he found that it was true, and gave orders for the twelve Queens to be killed. Then the Yaksani told him not to kill them, but to pluck out their eyes, and send them into the midst of the forest. Having heard the words which the Yaksani said, he acted in that very manner.

So all this party of Queens went and stayed in one spot, and there all the twelve bore children. As each one was born, they divided and ate it. The youngest Queen put aside all the flesh that was given to her, and while she was keeping it she, also, bore a son. Then those eleven Queens made ready to eat that Prince, so that Princess gave them the flesh which she had kept, and the party ate it.

As time went on that Prince having grown a little, began to bring and give them fruits that were lying on the ground. Then the Prince met with a bow and an arrow that had been concealed there. After that he began to shoot various kinds of small animals, and to bring and give them to the Queens. Afterwards he shot large animals, and having brought fire and boiled them, he gave the flesh to them. By this time the Prince understood all things thoroughly.

After that, one day this Prince asked,

“Mother, what is the reason why your eyes have become blind, and my eyes are well ?”

The party said,

“We were the Queens of such and such a King ; having taken a Yaksani in marriage, this was done to us through her enmity.”

Then the Prince remained thinking of killing the King.

One day, as he was going hunting, he met with a Vaedda. Thinking he would kill the Vaedda, the Prince chased him along the path.

The Vaedda, being afraid, went running away, and having met with the King said,

“O Lord, Your Majesty, there is a very handsome Prince in the midst of this forest. One cannot say if the Prince is the son of a deity or a royal Prince. He does not come near enough to speak. When he sees a man he drives him away, saying he is going to eat him.”

He spoke very strongly about it.

So the Ministers were sent by the King, who told them to seize and bring him. As the party were going to seize him, he sprang forward, saying that he was going to eat them. At that, the party became afraid, and ran away. Having come running, they told the King,

“O Lord, Your Majesty, we cannot seize him. He comes springing at us saying he is going to eat us.”

Then the King came, bringing his war army. Thereupon the Prince, who before that was angry with the King in his mind, threw a stone in order to kill the King, and struck him. Being struck by the stone, the King’s head was wounded (lit. split), so the King and all of them became afraid, and ran away.

The King, having returned, wrote letters to foreign countries:

“There is a wicked Prince in the midst of the forest in my kingdom. Who he is I cannot find out. Because of it you must come to seize the Prince.”

The Prince having got to know of it, and thinking,

“It is not good for me to be killed at the hands of these men ; having met with the King I will kill him,”

went to the royal palace. When he arrived there the King saw him, and asked,

“Who are you ?”

The Prince said,

“I am a royal Prince; I stay in the midst of this forest.”

The King said,

“Would it be a bad thing if you remained at this palace ?”

The Prince asked,

“What work would there be for me.”

The King said,

“Remain and do the work of the First Minister of the Ministers.”

The Prince asked,

“How much pay would there be for me for the day ?”

The King replied,

“I will give fifty masuran.”

“Fifty masuran are insufficient for me. Will you give me every day in the evening a hundred masuran ?” he asked.

The King said,

“It is good,”

and after that he stayed there. While remaining there he came twice a day and assisted his twelve mothers.

When no long time had gone by, some one was heard crying out in the night near the city. The King told him to look who was crying. The Prince having gone, taking his sword, when he looked, a dead body was hanging in a tree, and a Yaksani was springing up to eat the dead body. Being unable to seize it she was crying out.

The Prince went and asked,

“What is that for ?”

The Yaksani replied,

“My son having gone into the tree cannot descend; because of it I am crying out.”

The Prince said,

“Mount on my shoulders and unfasten him.”

The Yaksani having got on his shoulders, as she was about to eat the Prince he chopped at her with his sword. A foot was cut off, and she fled. Taking the foot and returning with it, the Prince showed it to the King. The King having seen the Prince’s resoluteness, in order to cause him to be killed said that unless he should bring the other foot he could not take charge of this one.

After that, the Prince went to the palace where the Yakas dwelt. There this Yaksani whom he had wounded came, and having made obeisance, fell down and said,

“Lord, do not kill me. I will do anything you tell me.”

Summoning her to accompany him and returning, he showed her to the King.

Afterwards he employed this Yaksani, and caused her to make a city at the place where his mothers were, and having made her construct a palace, he told the Yaksani and his mothers to dwell there.

While they were there the Yaksani said to the Prince,

“I know the place where the King’s life is. Whatever you should do to the King himself you cannot kill him.”

The Prince asked,

“Where is it ?”

“It is in a golden parrot in such and such a tree,”

she said.

After that he went there and caught the parrot and killed it. Then the King died.

After he died, the Prince having set fire to the palace there, and cut down the Yaksani who stayed with the King, left his mothers in charge of the city formed by the maimed Yaksani, and remained ruling the kingdom.

Western Province.



For some variants, see the notes at the end of the story numbered 48.

In Indian Nights' Entertainment, Panjab (Swynnerton), p. 355, a Princess in man’s disguise, acting as the King’s guard, found a ghul in the form of a woman howling under a corpse that was hanging from a gallows. She stated that it was her son whom she could not reach, and she asked to be lifted up. When raised up to it by the Princess she began to suck the blood, on seeing which the Princess made a cut at her, but only severed a piece of her clothing, which proved to be of so rich a quality that the King ordered her to procure more for his wife.

In the Jataka story No. 96 (vol. i, p. 235) an Ogress in the disguise of a woman followed a man into Takkasila, intending to devour him. The King saw her, was struck by her beauty, and married her. When he had given her authority over those who dwelt in the palace, she brought other Ogres at night, and ate the King and every one in the place.

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