Friday, November 27, 2015

The story of Hansraj and Bansraj

Hope you liked the two Tharu folk tales collected by Prof. Dr. Ulrike Mueller-Boeker. Here's the story of Hansraj and Bansraj narrated by Sangita Chaudhary and collected by Manisha Chaudhary and Suman Chaudhari. Please let us know if you have documented any Tharu folk tale passed on to you by your grandparents. Please email us the stories at

The story of Hansraj and Bansraj

Once upon a time, there was a king. In his palace was a nest of a sparrow. The king and queen could watch the sparrows’ activities from their bedroom. One day when the she-sparrow died. The he-sparrow was left with two baby sparrows.

The next day the sparrow brought a step-mother to the little sparrows. When the she-sparrow arrived at the nest, she was angry to see two babies.

She said, “You cheated me by saying that you are alone and unmarried.” “I won’t stay with you if you insist on having these two babies.”

So, the sparrow pushed the two children from the nest. Both of them died instantly as they fell on the floor.

The king and queen also had two sons – Hanraj and Bansraj. Seeing the tragic incident, the queen asked the king to promise that he would not marry after her death.

One day the queen died.

The king thought that nobody saw him promising the queen not to remarry, so he married Queen Laxminia bringing home a step-mother to the two young princes.

One day the two boys were playing with a ball. Unfortunately, the ball hit the queen. So, she hid it from the boys. When the children asked for the ball, she didn’t give it them.

When the king arrived, she put unbaked and baked clay pot covers under her bed and as she moved from one side to another, the clay covers made clinking sound. 

On being asked what happened, the queen said that she would tell the problem only if the king promised to grant her a wish. So, the king agreed. She then asked him to call a slaughterer to take both the boys to the dense jungle, kill them and bring back their heart and liver to her.

The king was bound by the promise so he did as he was told. The slaughterer took both the princes to the jungle. However, when he was to kill them, he felt pity on them. So he left them in the jungle and instead killed a fox, took out its heart and liver and presented it to the queen.

In the forest, Bansraj got thirsty and could not walk more. He asked his elder brother Hansraj to bring water for him. Leaving the lethargic Bansraj to his own, Hansraj went in search of water. However, there was no water to be found anywhere.

Luckily, he saw a water-like liquid dripping from a tree. Actually a snake had died on the tree and the liquid was dripping from its dead body. Being desperate in search of water, Hansraj didn’t look up and started collecting the liquid in a leaf container (tholo).   

A crow was seeing Hansraj gathering the liquid. Whenever the leaf container filled, the crow would come and spill the content from the leaf. Hansraj would again start collecting the liquid, but every time the crow would come and spill the content. It happened for three times.

Finally, Hansraj gave up collecting the liquid and came to his brother. Then he saw an egret flying. Thinking that the bird must be flying towards water source, he carried Bansraj and followed the bird.

The egret stopped by a ditch, nearby a flower picker woman’s (malin) hut. When the woman saw the little boy in such a bad condition, she gave water and food to him. She then asked Hansraj why he was carrying the little boy to the jungle. Then Hansraj told her the whole story, about his father, mother and how the step-mother had ordered to kill them.

Hearing the story, the malin cursed the queen and king.

“Hey merciless queen, you won’t have any children of your own.”

“Hey merciless king, your wound on the back would never get cured.”

True to her curse, a wound appeared on the king’s back and it never healed. Likewise, the queen was not able to conceive a child. Meanwhile the malin raised the boys. Both never lost any football match.

Once when the boys were playing, the queen was watching the match. Again the ball hit on her forehead. She said the boys on purpose hit her. But other spectators took the boys’ side and said that it was a mere accident.

When the king asked the boys about their father, they told their father’s name and said that they were Hansraj and Bansraj. The king could not believe in his eyes, so he called an astrologer. The astrologer told that they were his son. He also told that the slaughterer had not killed the children. Instead, he had brought the heart and liver of a fox.

The astrologer then also cursed the king.

“Hey merciless queen, you won’t have any children of your own.”

“Hey merciless king, your wound on the back would never get cured.”

Earlier the mother of the children had burned a sack of bamboos and buried the ashes in the backyard. Out of it grew a bamboo.

When a dom (who makes baskets out of bamboos) came to cut the bamboo, a sound came from it, “Stay away you untouchable.”

He again went to cut the bamboo. Again the same sound came from the bamboo but he could see nobody in the vicinity. He went away two times. However, he cut the bamboo on the third attempt.

When he cut the bamboo the same voice said, “Make baskets out of the top and bottom, and make a bansi (flute) out of the middle part.” “Don’t play the flute. I will tell all when the right time comes.”

The dom did the same.

After learning the truth from the astrologer, the king brought both the sons to home. When the dom came to sell the flute, the king bought it. The dom told him about the flute and said not to play it. So the king slid it in the char (inside of a thatched roof).

Every night after everybody slept, the dead queen would come out of the flute, clean the house, take care of the children, kick the king on the back while he was sleeping and would again slip inside the flute.

The king wondered who cleaned the house every night.

One night the king decided keep an eye on the intruder. Like every night the queen came out of the flute, cleaned the house and cooked the meal. Then she bathed the children and fed them. The king was watching everything. As the queen, like every day, kicked the king on the back, he caught hold of her.

He asked, “Who are you?”

The queen said, “I am neither an evil spirit nor a ghost.” “I am Hansraj and Bansraj’s mother.”

The king recognised her instantly and asked her not to leave. The queen then stayed with the king and the princes. The Queen Laxminia was put in dungeon by the king.

Narrated by: Sangita Chaudhary, Terhauta VDC, Ward No. 1, Saptary District
Collected by: Manisha Chaudhary and Suman Chaudhari

Malin: A woman who grows and sells flower
Dom: An ethnic community in southern plains of Nepal who make baskets and other items out of bamboo (considered untouchable earlier)
Bansi: A flute
Char: Inside of a thatched roof

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