Tales and Legends from India

Tales and Legends from India

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Item Code: NAF338
Author: Ruskin Bond
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 1990
ISBN: 9788129119193
Pages: 154 (13 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5 Inch x 5.5 Inch
Weight 170 gm
Back of the Book

Sheherazade, whose life depended upon her ability to turn out one tale after another, night after Arabian night, would, I am sure, have approved of my devoting most of my life to story-telling. Although in no danger of being executed for failing to meet deadline, my life has in many ways depended upon my story-telling abilities, which have been the best and only way in which I have been able to make a living and also choose the place of my abode, the foothills of Himalayas.

I am fortunate to be living and working in the mountains, in full view of the majestic snow peaks of the furthest Himalayan ranges those same peaks where the gods and goddesses of Hindu mythology have their abode. And I am doubly fortunate in being able to look down from the mountains upon the plains of India, a melting pot of races and religions, where so much has happened and it is an atmosphere and this book is designed to give the reader the feel of India and recapture some of its old magic.

 

About the Author

RUSKIN BOND'S first novel, The Room on the Roo], written when he was seventeen, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. Since then he has written several novellas (including vagrants in the Valley, A Flight if Pigeons and Delhi Is Not Far), essays, poems and children's books. He has also written over 500 short stories and articles that have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993 for Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra, a collection of short stories, and the Padma Shri in 1999.

 

Introduction

Sheherazade, whose life depended upon her ability to turn out one tale after another, night after Arabian night, would, I am sure, have approved of my devoting most of my life to story-telling. Although in no danger of being executed for failing to meet a deadline (could that be how the word came into being?), my life has in many ways depended upon my story-telling abilities, which have been the best and only way in which I have been able to make a living and also choose the place of my abode, the foothills of the Himalayas.

For over twenty five years, ever since I was a boy out of school in Simla, I have been a professional teller of tales short stories, tall stories, folk stories, true stories, unfinished stories… I am still long way from Sheherazade’s thousand and one tales, but then, I haven’t had the executioner’s axe poised over me, spurrng me on: only the rent to pay and books to buy and an occasional chicken for my supper, prepared by Prem Singh, who cooks chickens better than I write stories. Prem and his family live with me, and it is his children, and their demands for stories, that keep me inventing new tales or digging up old ones such as those in this collection.

My early stories, written when I was in my twenties, were about my own childhood in India and some of the people in knew as I grew up. Then, in my thirties, I wrote about other Indian children some of them are in The Road to the Bazar, also published by Julia MacRae. Now in my forties, I find myself going even further back in time, to the young heroes and heroines, Gods and Demons, of myth, legend and folklore although my father was British, I grew up an Indian, and have always cherished the literature of both east and west. There has been no division of lyoalites; only a double inheritance.

Some of the responsibility for my interest in folklore must lie (literally) at the door of the mother of my friend Anil Singh, whose ancestral home is in a village not far from Agra. Long before I came to “dwell in Himalayan country” (to use a phrase from the Jataka), I spent a winter in my friend’s village in the plains, where I soon discovered that his mother had at her command a great store of folklore, and there was nothing she liked better than to tell me stories in the evening gloam at “cow-dust time”, that brief Indian twilight before she went indoors to prepare our dinner. She would recline on a string cot in the courtyard, puffing at a hookah, recounting old tales of ghosts, fairies and other familiars. Two or three of these tales appear in this collection. There were more; but room had to be made for a wider selection tales representative of different parts of the country, of followers of different faiths, of tribal peoples, kings and commoners. I have leant heavily on the great Hindu religious epic, the Mahabharata, in which so many enchanting stories are found; on the Buddhist fables in the Jataka; and on the early renderings of pioneering folklorists, Indian and British. In a selection of Notes, which I have compiled with as much care as I have retold the stories, I have given the sources and the background to the tales and legends.

I am fortunate to be living and working in the mountains, in full view of the majestic snow-peaks of the furthest Himalayan ranges those same peaks where the gods and goddesses of Hindu mythology have their abode. And I am doubly fortunate in being able to look down from the mountains upon the plains of India, a melting pot of races and religious, where so much has happened, and still happens, to excite the mind and this book is designed to give the reader the feel of India and recapture some of its old magic.

 

Contents

 

Introduction 9
Tales From the Epics  
Love Conquers All 15
King Bharata 24
Shiva's Anger, 31
Nala and Damayanti 33
The Superior Man 37
Shakuntala 41
Tales From the Jataka  
The Hare in the Moon 53
The Ugly Prince and the heartless Princess, 56
The Crane and the Crab 66
Friends in Deed 69
"Who' ll Buy My Mangoes? 71
Regional Tales and Legends  
A Demon for Work 77
The Lost Ruby 81
How a Tribal Boy Became a King 85
The Happy herdosman 92
The Tiger king's Gift 96
The Ghost and the Idiot 107
Brave and Beautiful 111
Seven Brides for seven princes 118
A Battle of Wits 125
Toria and the Daughter of the Sun 132
The Wicked Guru 137
"As your Liberality, so Your Virtue" 141
The song of the Whistling Thrush 144
Notes and Sources 147

 

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