Folk Tales from Kashmir

Table of Contents

  About the Author
  The Precious Present
  The Devil Outwitted
  Just a Nickname
  The Son-in-Law
  Eh! Oh!
  The Inauspicious Bride
  Himal and Nagrai
  The Haunted Mosque
  The Intruder
  The Burglar's Gift
  The Two Thugs
  The Patwari and the ...
  The Upstart
  Two Brothers
  The Merciful Burglar
  The Clever Lawyer ...
  Counting Ripples
  The Fugitive Fawn
  The Mortal Utensils
  The Hydra-Headed
  The Physician's Son
  The Professional Wedding ...
  The Village Teacher
  The Opium Smokers
  The Drone
  Telltale Narration
  Download Book

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri




Nine hundred years ago a remarkable collection of stories called Kathasaritsagara, the ''Ocean of Stories", was produced in Kashmir. Somadeva, its author, is said to have included in this tome many stories which he had heard from others and which, in fact, had their origin in folk-literature. The Kathasaritsagara, which may justly be called a treasure of folk tales, has had considerable influence on countries which were in close touch with India during the Middle Ages.

The first collection of Kashmiri folk tales in English was brought out by the late Rev. John Hinton Knowles towards the end of the last century. Sometime later, a renowned scholar, the late Sir Auriel Stein, published another collection of this kind. Hatim's Tales, as this latter is called, is a collection of tales in verse and prose recited in Kashmiri for the savant by one Hatim who was an oilman by profession. These two works can by no means be said to exhaust the harvest of tales garnered in the fertile minds of the people. The present editor has endeavoured to collect some of the more interesting tales current in the valley of Kashmir which, but for two exceptions, have not appeared earlier.

Tales, myths, sagas and other narratives comprise perhaps the most interesting part of the literature named "Folklore", a term coined in 1846 by W.J. Thoms to designate the traditional learning of the uncultured classes of civilized nations. This is not the place to go into minute details on the subject. Suffice it to say that folk tales comprise a respectable volume of literature in all languages which is being explored with increasing interest everywhere. The earliest tales of this kind are traced to about 2800 B.C. in Egypt.

There is an unmistakable similarity in many folk tales of countries as far apart as Kashmir and France or China and Sweden. The obvious conclusion is that they have all been influenced by a common stock of tales which appear as variants in different languages. Apart from this there is the same affinity between the folk tales of different countries as in their fables, legends, myths, apologues, etc. There is, therefore, nothing to be surprised at if some of the folk tales of Kashmir have close parallels in other countries.

Several tales in this volume are based on incidents centering on real persons. By and large, however, the tales portray a large variety of men and women, both individuals and types, and project peoples' beliefs, customs, ideals, preferences and prejudices in all their rich variety as few other literary forms can do. As a matter of fact they impart meaning and substance to culture as it is crystallized in our day-to-day living. In this sense they are allied to myths. "Myths," according to the Encyclopaedia of Religion. and Ethics, "are not created out of nothing .... It [a myth] is always the covering, the shell, to a kernel of truth contained inside .... Folk tales are the myths of the race." Many tales in this volume could without doubt be called the myths of the race living in this land.

The present editor would feel his labours amply rewarded if the folk tales presented here quicken the curiosity of the reader for longer and wider excursions in this domain.

The author considers it a privilege to express his gratitude to Mr. G. M. Sadiq, Minister for Education, Jammu and Kashmir, for his generous response to the request to write a foreword to this book. He is indebted to Rev. W.A.W. Jarvis, of the St. Stephen's College, Delhi, who read the proofs of a portion of the book and made several valuable suggestions for its improvement. Thanks are due also to Mr. R. C. Dhar, Librarian, Research Department, Srinagar for the assistance rendered to the writer in the preparation of this book, and to Mr. Mohan Ji Raina, who produced the illustrations inserted in this book.




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