Title > Brahmarakshasa – A Tamil folktale

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Brahmarakshasa – A Tamil folktale

Literature - No Comments » - Posted on February, 11 at 12:24 pm

Once a poor Brahmin got tired of his poverty and decided to go to Kashi. It was a long route and he had just a packet of boiled rice to survive on. In the afternoon he decided to stop for rest and have a little rice from to sustain himself for the day’s journey. As soon as h settled down under a tree and started unwrapping his bundle he heard a voice saying, “Don’t”. When he looked around he could see nobody. He was startled and quickly packed his belongings. He decided to wash himself first and then think about the problem. When he was washing his mouth at the nearby lake he again heard the voice say, “don’t”. The Brahmin decided to be brave and washed himself and came back. The same voice again and again startled the Brahmin when he was eating his rice and when he was washing his hands. Ignoring it he completed his rest and decided to go after a while. The voice now pleadingly said “don’t go”. The Brahmin was curious and asked allowed who was he and from where he was talking?.

“Look up”, said the voice. To the Brahmins astonishment he saw a Brahmarakshasa (a demon) sitting on a branch. When the demon realised that the Brahmin was interested, he started telling his tale of woes.

I was a Brahmin like you, he said. “I was an expert in music but did not share my knowledge with anybody. So after death I became a Brahmarakshasa. I have been living on this tree for quite a long time. Now-a-days a piper visits the nearby temple and practices all day. He is not good at his art and it is torturous to listen to his tunes for the whole day. I feel as if holes are being drilled in my body. I am on my nerves ends and will turn into a terrible thing if this torture is not stopped.”

The Brahmin was sorry for the musician demon and asked how he could help. The demon suggested that he be carried to another grove where he would not hear the torturous tunes. The Brahmin agreed to help him but clarified that he would expect something in return. The Brahmarakshasa agreed to give him something once he was removed from from this place as then his depleted powers will return.

The Brahmin found a grove away from the noise and placed the demon on a tree. Now it was the demon’s turn to return the kind gesture. He told the Brahmin that he was going to posses the princess of Mysore and if he cared to earn some money he should visit the palace. As soon as the Brahmin arrived he will leave the princess and the king will bestow him with wealth.

While returning from Kashi the Brahmin remembered what the Brahmarakshasa had said and decided to visit Mysore. When he reached the grand city he enquired casually about the happenings in the town and was told that a fearsome demon had possessed the princess causing great anguish. The Brahmin realised that his times had changed and at once started for the palace.

When he was taken to the princess he asked to leave them alone. When the chamber was emptied the Brahmarakshasa talked to him through the princess. He told the Brahmin that he had fulfilled his promise and will now leave the princess but the Brahmin should not again come face to face with the demon if he possess anybody else. If he ignores the warning it will bring death. With this the demon left the princess and the palace causing a thunderous noise declaring his departure.

The king was overjoyed and gave the Brahmin a lot of money and land for sustaining a family. Life was now settled and the Brahmin married a beautiful girl from and settled in the town.

The demon meanwhile went straight down south and possessed the princess of Travancore. The king hired the services of the Vaidyas and the magicians but to no avail. One day a visitor told him about the Brahmin who had cured the princess of Mysore. A message was sent to the king of Mysore who in turn ordered the Brahmin to go to Travancore and help the distressed princess.

The Brahmin was now in a fix. Going in front of the demon meant death but refusal was not possible as it was a royal decree. Finally he took courage and decided to go. In the palace when the demon saw him he was furious and threatened that he will cut him into pieces. Now that it was a question of life and death the Brahmin gathered himself and calmly said, “The piper from the temple will be glad to visit this place and play his atrocious tunes”. As soon as the piper was mentioned the demon cried remembering the pain. He left the palace immediately with a loud noise.

The king was pleased and gave him so much wealth that the Brahmin is still counting the coins.

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