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How King Burtal Became A Fakir
by [?]

Once there was a great king called Burtal, and he had a hundred and sixty wives, but he had no children, which made him sad. One day he said to his wives, “I am going to a very distant jungle which is full of antelopes, to hunt them.” “Very well,” they answered, “go.” So he went. In that jungle lived neither tigers nor men, but only antelopes. When King Burtal reached the jungle, some of the antelopes came to him and said, “Pray don’t kill the black antelope, for he is our Rájá, and we have no other antelope like him among us; but try to kill any of the others–the brown or the yellow antelopes–that you choose.” Now, the king was not a kind man, and he said, “I will kill your black antelope, and no other.” So he shot him dead. When the other antelopes saw this they began to scream and cry with sorrow. But the dead antelope’s wife said to them, “There is a holy man, a fakír, in the jungle. Let us take the dead body to him and ask him to bring our Rájá to life.” And King Burtal laughed at them and said, “How can any man bring a dead antelope to life?” But the antelopes took the body of their dead Rájá on their backs, and the dead antelope’s wife went at their head; and King Burtal went too; and they carried it to the fakír, who was called Goraknáth, and who was resting in the jungle, and they said to him, “Bring our Rájá to life again, for what can we do without a Rájá? and he has left no son to succeed him.” And the queen antelope said, “I have no other husband. I had only this one husband. Do bring him to life for me.” King Burtal laughed and mocked them, and said to the fakír, “I never heard of any man being able to bring a dead antelope to life. I don’t believe you can do it.” At this Goraknáth got angry, and he knelt down and asked God to bring the antelope to life; and God told him to take a wand and beat the dead antelope with it, and then the antelope would be alive again. So Goraknáth took a wand and beat the dead antelope, and it was alive once more, and then it instantly sprang up into heaven. The antelopes were delighted to see their Rájá alive again, and they said, “We do not mind his going up to heaven, for he will come down again to us.”

King Burtal had stood by all the time, and he said to Goraknáth, “Make me a fakír like yourself,” for he thought it would be fine to do such wonderful things. But Goraknáth would not, and King Burtal stayed in the jungle with Goraknáth for twelve years, and all that time he never ceased begging and praying to be made a fakír, till at last Goraknáth said, “I cannot make you a fakír unless you go home and address your wives as ‘Mamma,’ and ask them to give you money and food.” Now, it is a very shameful thing to call one’s wife ‘Mamma,’ for if a wife is called ‘Mamma’ she has to leave her husband. Then Goraknáth took off the king’s clothes, and dressed him only in a cloth and a tiger’s skin; and the king went to his palace and began begging for rice and food, and he would not take any from the palace servants: he said he must and would see the Ránís, and that they themselves should give him food. The servants told the Ránís about this fakír who said he must and would see them himself, and that they should give him food and rice with their own hands, and one of their ayahs, who had recognized King Burtal, told them the fakír was their husband who had been away twelve years. The Ránís cried out, “Do not talk nonsense. That fakír can never be our husband.” “Go and see for yourselves,” answered the ayah. They went, and the fakír said to them, “Mamma, give me rice.” “Why do you call us ‘Mamma’?” they said. “We have no sons. You are not our son.” But at last they saw he was indeed their husband, and they wrung their hands and wept bitterly, and threw themselves on the ground before him and said, “Why have you called us ‘Mamma’? Why do you ask for bread? We must now leave you.” “Don’t go away,” said the king. “Take my kingdom, my money, my houses, and stay here till I return. I am going to be a fakír.” His wives gave him some rice and some money, and he went back to Goraknáth.