Santhumala Heydrich Picture

Mythological background provided by wikipedia:
A long time ago, there was a rich merchant and his beautiful wife who lived happily in a big house. Despite their good fortune, the couple didn't have any children. One day, they went together to a shrine and made an offering of twelve banana hands to a tree spirit. Not long thereafter the wife became pregnant and the rich man wished with all his might that the child would be a boy, but his wife gave birth to a girl. His wife, however, conceived again and again. She became pregnant twelve times and each time she had a daughter. By that time his business started to go wrong for him since the ships that took his goods to sell in another country were robbed several times. Finally the rich merchant ended up borrowing a lot of money from his friends trying to fix his business problems. Yet, no matter what he did, his family kept getting poorer.The former rich man found it hard having so many mouths to feed. So he made a plan to abandon his daughters in the forest. He hid this plan from his wife but his youngest daughter named Phao heard about it. When their father left them alone in the deep forest, the twelve girls were able to find their way back home thanks to their younger sister who had left marks in the path. But their father tried again and this time they were not able to find their way back home. They spent days walking deeper and deeper into the forest and became very hungry. Their father had given them twelve packets of rice, but when they opened them they found out that eleven of them were filled with sand and only one had rice in it. They shared that little rice and ate it crying, lamenting their misfortune. Wandering aimlessly the twelve girls came to a lake, where they tried to catch fish to satiate their hunger. Each of the sisters succeeded in catching a fish and eleven of them playfully poked the eyes of their fish with sharp twigs, except for the youngest one who poked only one eye.Finally they arrived to the yaksha kingdom, where an ogress named Santhumala saw the exhausted and emaciated girls resting under a tree and decided to adopt them. The ogress transformed herself into a human being, a pleasant-looking woman, and brought the twelve sisters to her home. For many years she treated them as her own daughters and under her care the twelve girls grew up into beautiful young women.One day, while Santhumala was away hunting, the twelve sisters met an old man who told them that Santhumala was not a human, but an ogress who liked to eat young women like them. So they fled from the ogre kingdom and wandered for days until they arrived to a clear river where they took a bath to refresh themselves. The local king saw the twelve ladies playing in the water and fell in love with them. So he brought them to his palace and married the twelve sisters.When Santhumala came back to her home and found that the girls were gone, she flew into a rage. She quickly found out where they were and transformed herself into a very beautiful young woman, more beautiful than any of the twelve sisters; then she went to the city of the king and asked to meet him. The king was spellbound by Santhumala's beauty and swiftly married her, promoting her to the rank of first queen. Jealous of the king's favoritism, the Twelve Sisters were not kind to the new queen. Although they were polite to her in front of the king, they were often mean to her in private. To take her revenge from the Twelve Sisters, Santhumala, the favorite queen, feigned sickness and the king became worried. She told the king that the cause of her disease was the ill-treatment of the twelve other wives and the only thing that would heal her would be a medicine distilled from the eyes of the Twelve Sisters.The king was so infatuated with Santhumala that he assented. Under his orders eleven of his wives had both of their eyes gouged out, but the youngest one had only one eye removed. Following this the Twelve Sisters were banished to a deep dark cave from where there was no way out. Then the king instructed his servants not to bring any food and not to help the Twelve Sisters in any way.All the twelve sisters were pregnant and they all successively gave birth to babies but all died. Since the women were being starved under Santhumala's strict orders, each one chopped her baby's body into twelve pieces to share with the other sisters to eat. When Phao gave birth to a beautiful boy who was alive, she lied to her sisters that her son was dead. Phao named her son Rothasen and looked after him well. As he grew he found a secret way out of the deep cave. He had a cock that won in all the cockfights. With the prize money he bought rice and from then onward he brought regularly food for his mother and his eleven aunts. As years went by Rothasen became a handsome young man. When the king heard of him, he invited him to the palace where he played games of dice with the monarch displaying great skill.Santhumala found out that twelve sisters were alive and she was angry that her plan to get rid had failed. Again she feigned sickness and told the king that only a certain fruit growing in her kingdom could cure her. She also told the king that only Phra Rothasen would be able to fetch it. So she wrote the following letter to her adoptive daughter, Meri, in the language of the ogres: "If this young man arrives to our kingdom in the morning, devour him in the morning; but if he arrives in the night, devour him in the night"On the way to the kingdom Phra Rothasen met an old Rshi who gave him a flying horse named Pachi to ride and who gave him hospitality. While the boy slept the sage altered the meaning of the letter by replacing the words "devour him" with "marry him".Thus, when he arrived at the kingdom of the ogres Phra Rothasen went straight to Meri and showed her the letter. Meri was surprised and pleased at seeing the virtuous-looking and handsome young man and she fell in love with him, celebrating her wedding with him straight away as directed.Meri was a kind-hearted and beautiful lady and Phra Rothasen lived with her very happily for some time, but he remembered his blind mother and aunts who still stayed in the dark cave. While showing him the palace, Meri had told Rothasen about certain magic medicines kept in a locked room including Phra Rothasen's mother and aunts's eyes. Then he made a plan to get Meri to sleep by making her drink wine and take the eyes for his mother and aunts. Thus one night, after Meri was sleeping, Phra Rothasen stole many medicines and the eyes from the locked room. Meri woke up and looked for her husband but she saw him far away riding his flying horse. She suddenly grew into a giant and followed Phra Rothasen crying and calling him with a loud voice. To stop her, Phra Rothasen threw a magic branch that turned the space between them into a deep lake and a high mountain. Seeing her husband escape from her Meri wailed in despair, asking him to stop. Phra Rothasen was moved by her sad screams and replied that he will back after he finished his urgent mission. Then Phra Rothasen flew away and left Meri with a broken heart crying bitterly at the shore of the lake.Phra Rothasen arrived back to his city and killed evil Santhumala with a magic club. He then went into the deep dark cave and healed the eyes of his mother and aunts by putting them back in their place with a special magic ointment. His mother and aunts left their deep cave and regained their former status with the king. They invited him to live in the palace again but Phra Rothasen told them that he had to hurry back to live with Meri who was waiting for him.But meanwhile Meri had died of sorrow. During her long wait she had shed so many tears that she had become blind. Before she died, she solemnly vowed that she would follow Phra Rothasen in every future reincarnation. Then she died with her grandmother crying at her side and surrounded by her servants.When Phra Rothasen arrived to the ogre kingdom he realized it was too late. He heard about her vow and carried his wife's body. Full of sadness at having lost everything, he dropped dead while holding his wife in his arms. Finally, their spirits flew together to their next rebirth where they would be joined again.In Tambon Mon Nang, Phanat Nikhom District, Chonburi Province, there is a shrine to the Twelve Sisters with the rock they used as pillow when they wandered in the wilderness and a Carissa carandas tree.Sa Siliam (สระสี่เหลี่ยม), also in Chonburi Province, is said to be the pond where Phra Rothasen brought his cock to drink water when he ran cockfights to make a living for the twelve sisters while they were banished in the deep dark cave, according to a legend of the area

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