This is one of the most popular folk tales of Bengal narrated generation after generation.
Once upon a time, there lived a good and kind king in a vast kingdom where peace and happiness reigned, food was bountiful, lush green trees with beautiful flowering plants abounded and because of the king’s virtues, the Gods smiled constantly on the kingdom.
The king had seven beautiful queens. But, despite all this bounty, the King was not happy, for he had no children. There was an underlying sadness and silence in the palace for there were no clutter of little feet or sound of happy childish laughter.
However, there came a time when the Gods decided to smile a little more brightly, and the youngest and the most beautiful queen called Shuo Rani became pregnant. But the King was on Mrigaya ie. Royal Hunt and did not come to know of this joyous news. The palace was filled with Shuo Rani’s happy laughter, the grass seemed greener, the birds chirped louder and the flowers brighter.
But this angered the other queens. They grew jealous and resentful and began to hatch wicked plots to get rid of Shuo Rani.
When the time came, Lo and Behold!! the queen gave birth to not one, not two but seven handsome sons and one beautiful daughter . SinceThe King was on Mrigaya ie. Royal Hunt and was away from the palace at that time,the elder queens seized the opportunity, killed all the babies and buried them in the backyard near a garbage dump.
The King heard about the births and came rushing back to the palace. When he went to see the babies, he was shown a rat, a scorpion, a frog, a crab and similar animals by the other queens. They told him that Shuo Rani was a witch for how else could a human produce animals? They convinced him to banish the queen for the good of the whole kingdom .
Though Shuo Rani protested her innocence, she was nevertheless banished forever.
Years went by. Shuo Rani led a pitiful life on the outskirts of the kingdom as a rag picker, while the elder six queens lived royally.
One day, the King sent his Royal Gardner to get flowers for the palace. To the gardner’s astonishment , not a single flower could be seen in the Palace Gardens!! All the trees were bare!! The Gardner ran helter skelter looking for flowers certain the King would behead him for this lapse, when he chanced upon the garbage dump , where unknown to him, the babies had been buried. He found seven Champa trees and one Parul tree laden with beautiful, scented flowers swaying gently in the wind.
When he went close with the intention of plucking the flowers, he heard a sweet voice call out from the Parul tree…
“O seven brothers Champa, wake up, wake up.”
Another voice replied from the Champa tree…
“O sister Parul, why do you call us?”
“The King’s Gardner has come to pluck flowers, shall we let him?”
To this the Champa flowers replied..
” No. Never, let the King himself come, then we will give flowers.”
So saying, the stalks of both the Champa and Parul trees shot up high, way out of the gardner’s reach.
The Gardner was scared and went rushing back to the palace and narrated the whole incident to the king.
The King was very intrigued and readily accompanied the gardner. When he reached out to pluck the flowers, the same voice said..
“O seven brothers Champa, wake up, wake up.”
“O sister Parul , why do you call us?”
“The King has come, shall we give him flowers?”
“No. Never. Let the eldest queen come, then we will give flowers.”
So saying, the stalks again shot up high in the air, way out of the king’s reach.
So the eldest queen was called and even she met with the same result, with the flowers asking for each queen in turn. When the sixth queen failed to pluck the flowers, the flowers said,
“Let the banished queen, living the life of a rag picker come, then we will give flowers.”
The King was astounded, but sent his trusted guard to bring Shuo Rani back.
When the queen tried to pluck a flower from the first Champa tree, a beautiful baby boy came out of the flower onto her lap. Thus seven handsome boys came out of the seven Champa trees and when the Queen tried to pluck a flower from the Parul tree, an exquisitely beautiful baby girl fell onto her lap. Thus all eight children were reunited with their mother.
The King then came to know of the heinous plot hatched by his other queens and ordered them to be imprisoned forever.
Thus the King, Shuo Rani and their eight beautiful children lived happily ever after…….
The moral of the story is.. No good can come out of envious and bad deeds for” as you sow, so shall you reap.”
You may not be aware, but the Golden Voiced Lata Mangeshkar has even sung a Bengali song on this tale…” Shaat bhai Champa jago re jago re….”