The setting of Khun Bulom was in the two worlds: one being Thaen or the highest celestial being in heaven (sometimes these celestial beings are called phi (ghosts); the other being the human on earth. In those days, the ghosts or the celestial beings and the humans could travel back and forth to visit one another. There were three human leaders or lords named Pu Langxoeng, Khun Khan, and Khun Khet. They built their territories on earth called Muang Lum (the lower world). They made a living by hunting, fishing and planting rice; thus, the people enjoyed eating meat, fish, and rice. Thaen sent his messenger down to tell the three lords to follow his instructions in the following verse:7
The people neglected Thaen's command. So he sent his messenger for the second time, but the people still neglected Thaen's instruction. After the third time, Thaen became so humiliated that he sent a flood to Muang Lum and the great flood injured and killed many people. The three leaders realized that they were the cause of Thaen's wrath so they built a raft, put their wives and children on the raft, and went to heaven to visit Thaen. Thaen spoke the following verse and sent them to be with another celestial being.
After the flood was over, the three human lords went to pay respect to Thaen and asked for permission to go down to earth again. Thaen gave a buffalo with beautiful horns and sent them to Na noi oy nu (Muang Thaeng--presently it is Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam.) After three years the buffalo died and from its nostrils sprouted a vine with three giant guords. Pu Lang Xoeng heard noises inside the guords so he pierced a hole with a glowing red fired drill. From the hole came many people. Khun Khan used a huge chisel to pierce another hole. From that hole came more people; it took three more days for all the people to come out. The people from the first hole split into two groups: one was called Tai Lom and the other Tai Lee. Those from the second hole split into three groups: Tai Lo, Tai Loeng, and Tai Kwang.
At first the people did not know how to survive; thus Pu Lang Xoeng taught them how to survive and instructed them to become husbands and wives and build households. He taught them to respect the elders and to have funeral ceremonies. The Tai Lom and Tai Lee must have cremation for the deceased, but the other groups must have burial ceremonies. A flag must be placed at the grave and a small hut built so the living could send rice and water to the spirits of the deceased. For those who could not build a hut, they must prepare a place in their own home for this purpose. They must call the spirit of the deceased to come and have food. The people in those days could live until they were three hundred years old. More and more people populated the earth. They were too many for Pu Lang Xoeng, Khun Lang, and Khun Khet to manage. So, they went to Thaen and asked for help. Thaen sent Khun Kha and Khun Khong down, but they could do nothing much because they were intoxicated most of the time. The three original human leaders decided to go ask Thaen for help again. Thaen called back Khun Kha and Khun Khong and sent Khun Bulomrachathirat or Khun Bulom who came down with many bards and wise people. Yet, there were still troubles. So Khun Bulom sent his messenger to ask for help from Thaen. This time Thaen sent a messenger to teach people how to plant vegetables and fruit. The people were also taught how to weave and how to make tools. The messenger also taught people what to do and what not to do. Once Thaen was certain that the people could take care of themselves, he told them not to travel back and forth to heaven again. He also had the bridge to heaven collapsed.
After awhile the vine of the gourds became overgrown and blocked the sunlight. Khun Bulom ordered many people to cut down the vine, but nobody could do it. At last, he sent an old couple, Pu Nyoe and Ya Nyoe to cut down the vine. The old couple sacrificed their lives to do so. Before they undertook the task, they asked people to remember them by calling their names to join every activity. Thus, the word "nyoe" appears after the Lao action words. When people are going to eat, they would say, "kin yoe (Please eat Grandma and Grandpa Nyoe)."
After the giant vine was cut, the human world prospered again. Later, Khun Bulom had seven sons from his two wives, Nang Yomphala and Nang Et-khaeng. Then, he found seven beautiful princesses to marry his sons. After that he taught them how to rule the kingdom peacefully. He also taught his daughters-in-law how to be good queens and housewives. Then he distributed all kinds of treasures to his seven sons and allocated people, noble men, and ministers to help them rule their new cities.
Khun Bulom sent his seven sons to rule various cities: Khun Lo was sent to Chawa (Luang Phra Bang) Lan Xang, Xiang Dong Xiang Thong; Yi muang phalan to Nongsae; Jungsawang to Muang Kaewluang or Muang Phakan; Saiphong to Muang Yuanyao; Ngou-In to Muang Sidayothaya; Lokkom to Xiangkhom, Khamkao, or Khamkoed; Jetcheuang to Muang Phuan.8
Before the sons traveled to their cities Khun Bulom taught them an important message. "Each of you must not mistreat the others; (each must attend to his own city). Do not ever invade the other's city. You must follow our ancient kingly rules. For the elder brother (s), you are already prosperous; you must not be greedy, trying to take over your younger brothers' cities. Or, you will face all kinds of misfortune in the future. As for the younger brothers, I bless you with prosperity. You must keep your older brothers informed of your well being. If anything or anyone, belonging to the other, comes to you, you must return it to the owner. Do not ever appropriate anything that is not your own." . . .9
So his teaching went on to cover all topics necessary for all cities to live in peace and harmony while the sons listened attentively. Khun Bulom continued ruling the city, putting down all kinds of law and order which later became Khun Bulom's Law (kod mai thammasat khun bulom).10 Not long after that, Khun Bulom died and his sons held a royal funeral, fitting the great king. After the two queens died and after the seven brothers took an oath to be friends, they left to rule their own assigned cities.
With that the story of Khun Bulom ends.
By Dr. Wajuppa Tossa
2002 SEAsite Laos. Basic Reading Lessons