The Story of King Madhukar

                In a far off land, there was a king named Madhukar. He had seven brothers. All of them used to go on hunting always. As they set off for hunting, they used to come to a resting place (chautari) near the jungle, sat and rested there for a while before they decided who would to go to which direction of the jungle for a hunt. They also decided that he who returns from hunting earlier would leave, as an indication of his return from the hunt, a green leafy branch of a tree on the resting platform at the crossroad before returning home. They decided to do this to make sure that no one is left in the jungle.

                One day, they went on hunting in the forest as usual. For seven days they kept in the jungle and on the seventh day, the youngest brother encountered a deer in a thick forest where "green trees whistled" as they swayed and "dried trees roared" as they broke apart and fell. He chased the hunt, but he could not catch it. In his chase, it got dark. In the darkness, he could not see the deer. He was put in a dilemma as to what to do. He had nowhere to go, and the deer was nowhere in sight. In the darkness he was scared. At a distance, he could see the fire. But he was in a place where the green trees whistled and dry ones roared. Darkness loomed all over and the roar of a tiger was heard nearby. He was thus impatient as to what to do. He could not decide what to do and where to go. Climb a tree and sit there or enter a cave and hide there! When his brother came to the crossroad, they did not see him. Thinking that he is left behind, the brothers went to different directions of the forest looking for him. As they did not meet him for seven days, they had to stay in the dark forest at night. They whistled and called him loudly. They shouted and asked him where he, Madhukar, the youngest brother, was. After roaming for seven days, they arrived closer to him and he heard their voice. He also yelled back and told them to come where he was. Thus finally all the seven brothers met in the jungle at night. When they met, they were still undecided as to where to go and what to do in that dark, thick forest at night.

                As the brothers met, they all asked Madhukar why he left all of them and went so far away from them. They reminded him that he should have left the hunt if it was leading him too far in the jungle. He begged an apology for not keeping near to his older brothers in the jungle. Later they started thinking what to do and where to go in the darkness. Then Madhukar told them about the fire appearing at some distance which gave an indication of human habitation. They all decided to go to the place where the fire appeared. But as they moved towards the fire, it looked farther and farther. However, they continued walking and only some hours before the dawn, they got to the place where the fire was seen. As they reached there, they found a house who was coughing. The house was in the forest. They knocked the door and called the old woman. They said, grandma, give us a place to stay at your house this night. But she did not speak; she did not respond. Only after their repeated request, she finally came out of her hut and asked who they were and where they were from.

                They replied who they were and how they were lost in the jungle though out the night. They told her how they were chasing a deer; how it fell dark; how they were left directionless in the thick forest.

                On hearing them, the old woman outright rejected their request. She denied giving the shelter at her place at night. They requested her to let them stay, if not in the house, around the house for the night. But she rejected and went inside. After sometimes, the women thought something in her mind. Slightly moved by their request, she again came out and told them she would let them stay in the house if they gave her a word or made a promise. The seven brothers hesitated in accepting her proposal to make a promise as the old woman looked cunning. They did not know what a promise she would demand them to make. When everybody hesitated, the youngest brother, Madhukar, asked them to promise for the sake of the night's stay. And they all accepted.

                Then the old woman told them that she had seven daughters to marry. If they promised to marry each of them, she would give them shelter for the night. The seven brothers looked at each other and agreed. When they agreed to marry, the old woman asked them to come in. She asked the eldest to the youngest to enter one chamber after another one by one. One after another, six brothers except the youngest one, Madhukar, were sent into six chambers (mujelas). Madhukar was left. The youngest daughter of the old woman was Mahalaxmi. She finally sent Madhukar to the chamber (mujela) of the youngest daughter. All of them stayed in their chambers the rest of the night. Each chamber belonged to a daughter of the old woman.

                The next morning they got up, came out. But Madhukar did not come out of the room. Mahalaxmi did not allow him to go out. Therefore, every morning, since the very first, all the six brothers got up, came out of their chambers, took food and used to go on hunting every day. Madhukar would mostly remain in the chamber with Mahalaxmi. He did not come out in the morning. However, all the brothers met in the evening. The six brothers who used to go on hunting everyday started getting emaciated day by day. When Madhukar saw his brothers getting emaciated, he was worried as to why his brothers are getting thinner and thinner. Mahalaxmi noticed that Madhukar looked worried and was always in a mood of thinking over something. Mahalaxmi, one day, asked him why he was worried. She also told him that his face was getting paler and darker. But Madhukar did not open up the secrets of his heart. He remained quiet and did not respond anything for three days consecutively. As Madhukar went on losing his vigor and getting worried, Mahalaxmi, urged to reveal the secrets and she promised that she would fulfill his desire of anything. Yet Madhukar did not respond. Finally Mahalaxmi said, I am not an ordinary girl, I have a powerful horoscope with lucky planetary positions. I can fulfill your wishes. Just tell me why you are worried.

                Then Madhukar finally spoke out. He said, I have no other worries. The only worry I have is that my six brothers are getting weaker and weaker every day. I am worried about them. Mahalaxmi then told him to look at the heels of his brothers when they come home from hunting every evening.

                Madhukar then went to his brothers before they went on hunting. He asked them not to go very far on hunting that day and revealed what Mahalaxmi has asked him to do. When they returned home, he looked at the heels of every brother and found that their blood had been sucked by the witches. The six sisters, apart from Mahalaxmi, who the six brothers were married to, were witches.

                On knowing that his six brothers were married to blood-sucking witches, he became very impatient. He readied to leave the house immediately. But Mahalaxmi urged him to stay for three days more. On the third day Mahalaxmi sent her six sisters to wash clothes. She told them to go to a distant stream where Madhukar would not see them. She also added that Madhukar is a man of strange purity. Accepting the suggestion of Mahalaxmi, the six sisters went to a distant stream to wash clothes that they carried in seven bamboo baskets on their back.

When six sisters had gone to a distant stream to wash clothes, Mahalaxmi told the seven brothers to leave the house and go away. She suggested the footpath that they had to take. She said, "As you walk you will see an iron swing. Primarily all your seven brothers have to swing the iron swing. On swinging the iron swing, you will land on a place which you will have to dig deep as a seven storied building. When you dig as deep as seven storied building, you will get seven sacks of beaten rice. Then again dig as deep as seven storied building and you will get seven sacks of black beans (maas). Again dig as deep as seven storied building and you will get seven sacks of millet. Again dig as deep as seven storied building and you will get seven sacks of marsya (white millet). When you have got all these grains, mix them and then again separate all the grains."

 The seven brothers did as she suggested and everything was true. They employed ants to separate the grains. After separating the grains, she again told them to dig as deep as a seven storied building. "When you have dug as deep, you will get the horses." The brothers did exactly as Mahalaxmi had told them to do. When they dug as deep as a seven storied building after separating the grains, a horse sprang up. They told the eldest brother to ride on it and go home. Like that the brothers went on digging as deep as a seven storied building every time to get a horse to send one more brother home. Finally Madhukar was left behind. The weapons and dogs of all six brothers were still there. He alone dug as deep as a seven storied building and a horse appeared. This horse came to the ditch where Madhukar was standing with great difficulty. He had seen the six horses that his brothers had taken. They were so strong and active. Madhukar cursed his luck and thought his brothers had so strong horses, but his one is so weak. How would he jump up so high from the pit? He cursed his bad luck and thought that it is time for the witches to come back. They would come and kill him now, he thought and he got worried. As Madhukar was in a pensive mood, the horse spoke, "I am a flying horse." Don't worry. Then Madhukar rode and Mahalaxmi, the dogs and weapons of his brothers and the horse sprang from the pit and came on to the surface. From there, it flew above the ocean. Just at the mean time, the witches returned from the stream where they had gone for washing clothes. They saw him, came flying, and caught the tail of the horse. At that time, Mahalaxmi asked Madhukar to shoot an arrow. He shot an arrow towards the witches which had caught the tail of the horse. the witches were flying catching the tail of the horse. The arrow fell on the horse's tail and cut it. As the tail which the witches had caught was separated by the arrow, they fell face down into the ocean. Thus the witches sank into the ocean and died. Madhukar's horse flew across the ocean, took rest on the shore. Later he moved ahead from there and met his brothers on the way.

When all the brothers met, they again sat together to take rest.  Madhukar narrated what had happened with him. The third brother told that he had a bad dream and that they should move away from there before anything happened. They walked on and on and finally reached a thick forest at night. They were eight of them including Mahalaxmi. Mahalaxmi was a single woman among seven brothers. They decided to guard her one by one every night until they reached home. The eldest brother took the first turn that night to guard while other brothers slept. They decided that even the dogs would sleep when one of the brothers was on watch. They felt that everyone would have a turn one night by the time they reach home. The night passed well when the eldest brother was on watch. In the morning everyone got up and they started the journey. Again the night fell and the second brother was guarding. In the morning everyone got up and they started the journey. Again the night fell and the second brother was on guard. Thus they travelled throughout the day and rested at night. Every brother carried out the responsibility of guarding perfectly and Mahalaxmi was well protected. On the sixth night, it was the turn of the sixth brother. He guarded for some time and when he saw all of them sleeping. He thought he would also sleep as they all are sleeping. When he slept, the god of sleep noticed it. The god of sleep now shot an arrow and with his arrow reaching near, all of them had a deeper and deeper sleep. Finally the arrow fell on the (hair) braid of Mahalaxmi. The arrow then tied her in the waist and lifted her up. As she was lifted up and up, she had lighter and lighter sleep. Thus she was taken to heaven by the God of sleep. When the god took her to heaven, the seven brothers woke up, looked around and did not find Mahalaxmi. Madhukar was sad on not finding Mahalaxmi. He was angry with the sixth brother who was put on guard. He told all the brothers what he had not done for them. Now he said that he would no more be with them. He walked alone in search of Mahalaxmi.

                On the way, Madhukar met a pine tree asked him if he had seen his wife Mahalaxmi. The pine tree which was swinging with the blowing wind and had hard time to save itself from the wind angrily responded, "I have hard times to save myself from the wind and you are asking about your wife. Go away and don't pester me. I have not seen anybody."

 In his anger, Madhukar cursed the pine; "Never grow again once you are cut" and walked ahead. Then he met a tropical plant that acts like a wasp's bite at touch (sisnu) and asked if he had seen his wife, Mahalaxmi. Sisnu responded that I tried and tried and tried but could not stop her. Madhukar was glad that Sisnu at least tried to stop her and, therefore, blessed Sisnu to grow all the more when it is cut. Then again he met a wild berry runner (airi ko jyang) and asked "Airi, did you see my wife Mahalaxmi?" Airi responded, I caught and caught her again and again, but could not stop her, she escaped away. He also blessed Airi to continue growing and nailing that came across.

                After meeting Sallo, Sisnu and Airi, he walked ahead and again met a cucumber busy in spreading its vines that said, "I am busy. Don't disturb me and go away." Madhukar cursed the cucumber and told him that he would have on progeny once he is cut and if there is any that will be bodily deformed. He then met the wild yam and asked about Mahalaxmi. The yam too described his effort and failure to catch her. He blessed the yam and walked ahead and finally reached the home of the old woman. The old woman heard his story and expressed a sense of pain on the trouble that he faced. Then she gave a dry goat hide, a dry hollow gourd and a rice pan. She told him that he had had enough trouble. She suggested him to rub the goat hide to make a linen bed, to roll down the dry gourd when he needed cold water and roll away the rice pan to get varieties of food to eat. Now Madhukar left the house of the old woman taking with him the goat hide, dry gourd and the rice pan.

On the way, when he was tired he remembered the words of the old woman, but doubted if what she said would be true on the face of his bad luck. However, he first rubbed the goat hide. To his surprise, a linen bed appeared. Being encouraged, he now rolled down the dry gourd. To his surprise the dry gourd came back to him with cold water. Then finally he rolled away the rice pan. And very delicious foods appeared before him. On eating food, he played the flute. When he played the flute, Mahalaxmi heard it while she was in the palace of Gods in heaven. In the mean time, a flea entered her hair and she felt something might have happened with Madhukar. She was in a company of friends in heaven. She told her friends that she had an urgent business and she would come later. By making this excuse, she came to Madhukar and asked him how he was. Finding Madhukar fine, Mahalaxmi suggested him to play the flute only at night as she would only be free then. He used to play the flute at night and she used to come thereafter. After that Madhukar walked on with the goat hide and other things. On his journey, he reached a water spout where the buffalo grazers were sitting and chatting. He sat near the spout and drank water. The buffalo grazers asked him who he was. Madhukar narrated the entire story of his misfortune even after being a king and started lamenting. An old woman who was near the spout suggested him not to lament but to go on a journey to a village called Hadikhoda. There girls come to a tap to take a bath. Near the tap you will see a hair standing. The King of Hadikhoda has given a word that he would give the hand of his daughter on marriage to one who can tear that hair from a distance. He then went to Hadikhoda and reached the tap where many women were queuing up for water from a very small spout. Near the spout, he saw a hair standing. He went near it and the tap as well. The women expressed their amazement as to who he was, thus coming near the tap and watching the hair so carefully. They were even annoyed at his presence. They started ridiculing him. Madhukar was angry at this disrespectful demeanor of the women. He told them that his horse is about to hiss and if he hisses, doom will befall upon all of them. As he pulled the rein of the horse, it hissed. He then took the horse to the village and his horse hissed in front of every house of the village. He told the villagers that there is a danger that all of them would die. Therefore, he asked them to leave their houses and queue up along the path-- men, women and children in different rows--if they wanted to be saved. All the villagers went and queued up along the path. He rode on the horse and ran along the road. From the other end, he returned and shot an arrow and killed all of them. Only the king of that village remained alive. The King too was surprised on the death of his villagers. He went to Madhukar and asked why he killed his villagers. Madhukar said that he had just come to the village to tear the hair, but because the women slandered and defamed him, he killed all of them.

                On hearing Madhukar, the King inquired if he would be able to tear the hair. When Madhukar accepted, the king took him a mile away from the hair and asked him to tear it. Madhukar lifted a stone, threw it at the hair and tore it. On tearing the hair the King of the village took Madhukar to his palace and arranged the marriage of his beautiful daughter with him. After that Madhukar started living in the princess's chamber at the King's palace. But he had Mahalaxmi in his heart. The princess would never be able to take her place. Though he married the princess, she could never win his hear. He was looking to get rid of her. Therefore when the princess slept, he played the flute. On hearing the sound of the flute played by Madhukar, Mahalaxmi used to come to him every night. This continued for a long time and he never revealed that he was married to another woman, the princess.

                Madhukar used to go on hunting at the day time and came back home only in the evening. After the evening meal, they used to chat before going to bed. After everyone slept, he played the flute to call Mahalaxmi. One day when Madhukar had gone to the forest on hunting, the princess played the flute. Mahalaxmi heard it in heaven and thought either his dear Madhukar had died or was in danger. She wanted to visit him then, but the day did not allow her to travel. That night, Madhukar played the flute as usual, but she did not come. He played the flute the second time and only then she came and found Madhukar fine. She asked him why he disobeyed her and played the flute at the day time even after her request. Madhukar said that he was in the forest and he did not play the flute. It might have been played by the princess. He was angry with the princess. He even started beating her. He wanted to leave her, divorce her, but she would not agree. She did not even allow her to go on hunting. She would always hold tight to him fearing that he would leave her and run away.

                As Madhukar was tired of the princess, he conceived a plan. He thought of making friendship with Hanthinka banjeudi, a young man who produced fire spark like a flint and spread a snare like a hunter, to help him get rid of his new wife. Hanthinka banjeudi was an expert on beating and tying someone down. When Madhukar told him to beat and tie the princess, Hanthinka banjeudi picked her up and threw her in such a way that she could not be seen anywhere. After this event Madhukar and Hanthinka Banjeudi became fast friends and went on travelling from village to village. They stayed away from a village. Hanthinka brought the sweetest foods everyday from the village to eat. One day, they reached the palace of the village King with whose daughter Hanthinka fell in love and got married. Madhukar had the fairy, Mahalaxmi, as his wife and Hanthinka had the princess as a wife. Both of them lived happily thereafter. If any mishappening took place, Hanthinka and Madhukar would help one another.