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The Legend of Gauw is an old story coming from the Tamnan Rueh Srie (textbook of the jungle preacher), that contains the basic pedagogic principles of the Pahuyuth teachers.
A charcoal worker (Tahnn) had a young son named Gauw (glas) who didn´t want to carry on his father´s profession; the production and sale of charcoal. He wished to become a hunter (Plan) who knows about the jungle and the animals which he thought to be scared of him. He simply thought that this would be a better life instead of doing the charcoal business. He was fascinated about reports and stories of the heroic deeds of hunters (Plan) by visitors and traders who came to his village.
Day in, day out, he concentrated more and more on that idea. He didn´t listen to his parent´s advice but neglected his usual work with the charcoal. Any time a trader stopped by at his village he asked him for the address of a good hunter to become his student. But so far Gauw wasn´t successful. The hunters who accidentally came to his village were either old and infirm or not suitable for any other reason. What he needed was a real hunter he could ask and go with him. The only thing the traders told him was that they sometimes met a hunter in the jungle who sold them meat or hand tools. They promised that in case they would meet him again to ask him where he lived. If one day the right hunter came to his village his wish would come true. Therefore, he shouldn´t give up and keep on looking out.
One day Gauw was told by a trader who had compassion for the boy that in the jungle, north of his village near a rivers mouth a jungle preacher (Rueh Srie) had settled down in a self-built little temple (Sala). The jungle preacher was regarded as healer and advisor who was visited by hunters or others who came across the jungle to get help, medicinal herb or magic stuff. The young Gauw should go to him because it would be the only way to get to his longed-for hunter. The trader told him that he had already been there and told the Rueh Srie about him who had nothing against it. The only thing the Rueh Srie wanted was that young Gauw should worry about his own concerns himself just as he goes to the toilet every day himself, too.
Gauw was so very happy about the good news that he immediately prepared himself to get to the Rueh Srie. For the hunter he took a big sack of charcoal from his parents as expense allowance for his instruction. As a sign of his good manners and as a present he took a cooked meal, rice and beef as well as a young coconut for the Rueh Srie . For himself he took food for the journey that would last for about 7 days and put it in his pack. For the transport of his things and as later food he took an old cow (Vau) from his neighbours in exchange for a few sacks of charcoal. The cow couldn´t be used for farming any more, anyway.
The next morning when day dawned Gauw packed his things away and said good buy to his parents. He promised to come back as soon as he had become a hunter. Then he set out in northern direction to the Rueh Srie.
The way turned out to be more difficult and far away than the trader had reported. So young Gauw who had never been in the jungle before got scared. Because of his lack of experience, he couldn´t recognize his covered way and the surrounding. He didn´t know which plants he could eat because he hadn´t seen any of this kind before. The little bit of grass his cow chewed from time to time wasn´t suitable as food for him.
Furthermore, it turned out to be arduous to pull the cow all the way across the jungle. Either the trees were too close to each other or the cow simply refused to go over the mountain with him. The food for his journey was used up and only the meal for the Rueh Srie was left. But he didn´t dare to eat it because in this case the whole way could have been in vain. Neither he could slaughter the cow because it was the thing he wanted to learn from the hunter. Although he had orientated according to the description of the trader he didn´t know how far it still was to get to the Rueh Srie.
During one night in the jungle when he hadn´t eaten for days in a state of exhaustion he laid down on a tamarind (Tohn Mahkarmm) tree forgetting to tie up his cow and fell asleep. He dreamed of a tree goddess (Nang Maih) who came out of the tree. She smiled at him and said: ” Dear Gauw, it is gold that you have in your sacks covered by the charcoal. If you did it right all your wishes would come true. The hunter has already got what he needs to make gold. He doesn´t need to get it from you.” Thereafter, she disappeared into the tree. Gauw frightened and woke up. The words of the Nang Maih were still sounding in his ears when he looked for his cow. He found out that it was gone and with it the whole pack, too. He stood up and the same moment a piece of charcoal fell down on the ground.
The whole situation was still unbelievable and not to be interpreted for him. The dream, the disappeared cow and the piece of charcoal… After a few moments he recovered and started to think how to get back his cow and his other things. He looked for the spoor of his cow to find out in which direction it was gone. He found another piece of charcoal and his hope to find it rose. He followed the spoor and collected the pieces. He didn´t think that the cow was taken away by anyone but had gone in search for food. The damaged sack must have been the reason for the pieces of charcoal that he found. Soon, he thought he would find his cow to be able to continue his journey to the Rueh Srie.
Late in the afternoon as he passed an arm of a river he saw a river mouth and right next to it a little temple (Sala). Now he had arrived at his destination but neither he had his cow nor his pack. Nevertheless, he decided to walk over to the sala as he had planned. Perhaps, so he thought, he could get some information at the sala. If necessary, he could make new charcoal for the hunter himself because he grew up with this work. He was very tired and hoped to spend the night in the sala.
When he arrived at the sala he saw his cow and his pack tied up at a tree right next to it. In the temple he saw the Rueh Srie in meditation. Anyone else was around. The sack with the charcoal was still half-full and the meal for the Rueh Srie untouched. As tired as he was he didn´t even recognize that the sack with the charcoal wasn´t damaged. His hunger was overpowering and so he took out the meal for the Rueh Srie and ate it all. Afterwards, he immediately fell into a deep sleep. With the shining sun he woke up the next morning. He saw his cow in the valley grazing. The temple was empty and the Rueh Srie was gone. All of his things were on the ground and next to him he found a bowl with different kinds of fruits and a container with water (Kahnn Nah). But he did not dare to take any of them because he thought someone had brought them for the Rueh Srie. If he had taken any it would have been an abuse of a saint´s presents. Yesterday he had already eaten the meal that he actually wanted to give to the Rueh Srie. He really couldn´t do this once again.
To impress the Rueh Srie he decided to make himself useful while waiting at the temple. He sweeped up the temple, got the things in order and filled up the water container. After he had done all this he went down to the valley to get his cow. As he came back he saw the Rueh Srie again. He was in meditation and next to him he saw the trader who had sent him there. He tied up his cow and welcomed him and told him everything that had happened meanwhile.
The trader smiled and said that everything in life has its price which is fixed by the one who pays it and not by the one who gets it. If he wants to become a hunter, then he has to behave like a student. The jungle is both the home of a Rueh Srie and the home of a hunter. To find and hunt animals the hunter has to know his way around the jungle. Therefore, he should stay here and accompany the Rueh Srie until the hunter came. So he could get useful information about living in the jungle. The meal that he had found was for him and he could eat it. He shouldn´t try to impose any conversation to the Rueh Srie because he would not get any answers anyway. Instead, he should rather wait till he started to talk to him. Then, all his questions would clear up.
Gauw sent his regards to his parents and said good bye before the trader started again. After he had gone Gauw started to think what he had said and decided on following his advice. Then he laid down and fell asleep.
The days went by and Gauw took the knowledge of the Rueh Srie without questioning it. The Rueh Srie showed him how to do things or asked him questions which he had to answer on his own. In the jungle the Rueh Srie moved very quickly that Gauw had problems to follow him and lost his way. Step by step, the Rueh Srie left certain marks that Gauw could finally find him soon. As a reward he always got new kinds of fruits and vegetables for dinner what also made his survival in the jungle more secure.
Soon, he had learned so much that he could cook his own meal. With his knowledge about the charcoal he made sure that it was always warm inside of the sala and he also made sure that they both had dinner. Furthermore, he still managed all the other things of the sala household. He became introduced to the all the habits of the animals. He knew about their hiding-places and could take up trails. He learned about different kinds of traps and how to set them out as well as he experienced the sufferings of animals and amputations. He could already treat animals the Rueh Srie had brought to sala on his own. He had learned all about animals except the killing thought he had not met a hunter, yet.
Sometimes people came for medical treatment to the Rueh Srie. So it came to happen that if the Rueh Srie was in meditation young Gauw took over the treatment. He was the only around and because of his successful treatment the people thought him to be the Rueh Srie´s student although he still had not spoken a single word with him. Actually, instead of becoming a jungle priest he had wanted to be a hunter and only waited for the right teacher.
One day the trader came to the sala to visit the Rueh Srie. He brought many delicious things of Gauw´s parents and told them that in Gauw´s village where his parents lived many people had died because of a tiger gang that roamed about. Also, some hunters who had already been hired had failed and were dead. Now, the inhabitants of the village were looking for a better hunter who was able to handle the problem and bring peace back to the little village. For that they would give everything. All of a sudden, and for the first time the Rueh Srie spoke to Gauw:
Gauw, don´t you want to go to your parents and protect them from the danger?”
The boy was speechless because he did not expect the Rueh Srie to speak to him in this situation. Especially because he was worried enough because of his parents and the trader´s news. But the Rueh Srie went on:
Gauw, you should go. There you will also find the best hunter. He won´t come here until the problem is solved, anyway. There he is urgently needed.”
Although Gauw did not understand all this he said good bye. Now, he would finally meet the best hunter. He took his cow and started to his home village.
On his way he had an idea. He wanted to catch the tigers and bring them as a present for his parents and the best hunter whom he expected to meet there to show what he had learned already.
To catch the tigers was no big problem for him especially because he had the cow. He made a little detour and with the knowledge the Rueh Srie had passed on to him he built several cages. He used his cow as bait and was able to catch all the tigers. Afterwards, he built a cart (Gwien) and loaded on the cages. With his cow as a nag he made his way home to his village.
The villagers were in utter confusion when Gauw came down the way with his cart and the loaded cages. They ran round him and accompanied him to the house of his parents. His parents were ever so pleased about his return and embraced him. They asked how he was able to achieve this and what was supposed to happen now.
He told them what he had learned from the Rueh Srie and that they were meant for the best hunter to take him as a student. Because he kept the tigers in his parents’ house he became the attraction of the village. Every day the people came by to stare at the tigers in astonishment. Since then, he hadn´t gotten any further news about the arrival of the best hunter.
So meanwhile he helped his family out with the charcoal business and took care of the tigers and the cow. Using the knowledge of the Rueh Srie he was able to choose good trees for the charcoal production. Accordingly, his goods had the best quality in his vicinity and he and his family became rich. But he was still waiting and the best hunter was yet to come. So one day he decided to visit the Rueh Srie and to bring him the tigers until the best hunter would arrive.
This time it was quite easy for him to get to the Rueh Srie. He didn´t fear to die of starvation nor did he get off his way. The Rueh Srie greeted him friendly and asked him to sit down. After Gauw had told the Rueh Srie what had happened since his departure he explained his request to leave the tigers at the sala until he had found the hunter. When the Rueh Srie heard this, he started to laugh and asked Gauw:
“Who is the best student of a hunter? The one who is able to produce the best charcoal with his knowledge or the one who catches a tiger with bare hands?”
Suddenly Gauw realized the whole thing and understood that the Rueh Srie had been his hunter the whole time. From him he had learned how to choose the best trees for the charcoal and how to catch the tigers. Gauw made a bow to the Rueh Srie and offered him the tigers as a sign of his gratitude. Since this story, the person of the Rueh Srie is always connected with tigers which were given by the young Gauw. After the tigers had died the symbol was taken over on the garment.
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