Read the previous part here…
Now I have a question for you. Who was the bravest of them all? Who was the greatest? Tell me, o wise king. Remember, if you know the answer, and don’t tell me the truth, your head will burst into a hundred pieces!
एतच् छ्रुत्वा स भूपालो वेतालं प्रत्युवाच तम् ।
एतेषु शुद्रको राजा प्रवीरः सो ऽखिलेष्व् इति ॥ १२,११.१२३ ॥
ततो ऽब्रवीत् स वेतालो राजन् वीरवरो न किम् ।
सो ऽधिको यस्य तुल्यो ऽस्यां पृथ्व्याम् एव न जायते ॥ १२,११.१२४ ॥
तत्पत्नी नाधिका किं वा स्त्रीभुता यान्वमन्यत ।
तथोपहारपशुतां सूनोः प्रत्यक्षदर्शिनी ॥ १२,११.१२५ ॥
स वा सत्त्ववरो नात्र तत्पुत्रो ऽभ्यधिकः कथम् ।
बालस्यापि सतो यस्य सत्त्वोत्कर्षः स तादृशः ॥ १२,११.१२६ ॥
तत् कस्माच् छुद्रकं भूपम् एभ्यस् त्वं भाषसे ऽधिकम् ।
इत्य् उक्तवन्तं वेतालं स जगाद पुनर् नृपः ॥ १२,११.१२७ ॥
मैवं वीरवरस् तावत् स तादृक्कुलपुत्रकः ।
तस्य प्राणैः सुतैर् दारैः स्वामिसंरक्षणं व्रतम् ॥ १२,११.१२८ ॥
तत्पत्नी सापि कुलजा साद्वी पत्येकदेवता ।
भर्तृवर्त्मानुसारेण तस्या धर्मो ऽस्तु को ऽपरः ॥ १२,११.१२९ ॥
ताभ्यां जातस् तु तद्रूप एव सत्त्ववरो ऽपि सः ।
यादृशास् तन्तवः कामं तादृशो जायते पटः ॥ १२,११.१३० ॥
येषां प्राणैस् तु भृत्यानां नृपैर् आत्माभिरक्ष्यते ।
तेषाम् अर्थे त्यजन्देहं शुद्रको ऽत्र विशिष्यते ॥ १२,११.१३१ ॥
इत्य् आकर्ण्य वचः स तस्य नृपतेर् अंसाद् असंलक्षितः
वेतालः सहसा ययौ निजपदं भूयो ऽपि तन्मायया ।
राजाप्य् उच्चलितो बभूव पुनर् अप्य् आनेतुम् एतं पथा
पूर्वेणैव सुनिश्चितः पितृवने तस्मिन् स तस्यां निशि ॥ १२,११.१३२ ॥
King Vikram replied…
“King Sudraka was the greatest among them all.”
The Vetāla said “Was not Vīravara greater than him? After all, who would do so much for a master? And why didn’t you think that his wife was greater – she witnessed her son being sacrificed in front of her own eyes! And why not his son? He was a mere child, but he displayed so much courage…why do you say that Sudraka was the greatest of them all?
King Vikram explained ” There is no doubt that the other three were also exceptionally brave! Vīravara was a man born into a noble family, where it was tradition to sacrifice one’s life for the king and the kingdom, when the need arose. And so he was doing his duty, and doing it well.”
“His wife was also from a good family, and devoted to her husband, to stay with him in sickness and in health, in good and bad times. She did everything that she could to carry out her duties towards her husband…”
“Sattvavara was their son after all. The quality of the web is determined by the quality of the threads that are used, and Sattvavara was a true son of his valorous father.”
But Sudraka was a king, a ruler. Yet he was ready to die for those who served him well…he was ready to die for the sake of his servants, when usually kings are more than willing to sacrifice everyone just to save their own lives.”
“This king stood tall among the others, and proved to be the greatest of them all.”
As the king uttered these words, the Vetāla flew off his shoulder, laughing. And King Vikram once more started to walk towards the banyan tree, determined to fetch him.
The fifth story
Who should marry Somaprabhā?
ततस् तस्य पुनर् गत्वा शिंशपाशाखिनो ऽन्तिकम् ।
तथैवोल्लम्बमानं तं दृष्ट्वा नरशरीरगम् ॥ १२,१२.१ ॥
वेतालम् अवतार्यैव कृत्वास्मै बहु वैकृतम् ।
स त्रिविक्रमसेनो द्राग् गन्तुं प्रववृते ततः ॥ १२,१२.२ ॥
आगच्छन्तं च तं तूष्णीं वेतालः पूर्ववत्पथि ।
रात्रौ महाश्मशाने ऽत्र स्कन्धस्थो व्याजहार सः ॥ १२,१२.३ ॥
राजन्न् अभिनिविष्टो ऽसि कष्टे ऽत्यन्तप्रियो ऽसि च ।
तत् ते चेतोविनोदाय वर्णयामि कथां शृणु ॥ १२,१२.४ ॥
King Vikram reached the banyan tree and again grabbed the corpse, put it across his shoulders, and started to walk towards his destination.
As he walked, the Vetāla spoke once again “Oh King, why are you going through all this trouble for a mere yogi? There is no wisdom in performing labour that does not yield in anything fruitful.. Anyway, since we are on a long journey, let me tell you an interesting story.
उज्जयिन्याम् अभूद् विप्रः पुण्यसेनस्य भूपतेः ।
अनुजीवी प्रियो ऽमात्यो हरिस्वामीति सद्गुणः ॥ १२,१२.५ ॥
तस्यात्मनो ऽनुरूपायां भार्यायां गृहमेधिनः ।
गुणवान् सदृशः पुत्रो देवस्वामीत्य् अजायत ॥ १२,१२.६ ॥
तद्वच् चानन्य सामान्य रूपलावण्य विश्रुता ।
कन्या सोमप्रभा नाम तस्यान्वर्थोदपद्यत ॥ १२,१२.७ ॥
सा प्रदेया सती कन्या रूपोत्कर्षाभिमानिनी ।
मातुर् मुखेन पितरं भ्रातरं च जगाद तम् ॥ १२,१२.८ ॥
शूरस्य ज्ञानिनो वाहं देया विज्ञानिनो ऽपि वा ।
अन्यस्मै नास्मि दातव्या कार्यं मज्जीवितेन चेत् ॥ १२,१२.९ ॥
तच् छ्रुत्वा तादृशं तस्याश् चिन्वन्न् एकतमं वरम् ।
तत्पिता स हरिस्वामी यावच् चिन्तां वहत्य् अलम् ॥ १२,१२.१० ॥
तावद् व्यसर्जी रज्ञा स पुण्यसेनेन दूत्यया ।
संध्यर्थं विग्रहायात दाक्षिणात्यनृपान्तिकम् ॥ १२,१२.११ ॥
कृतकार्यश् च तत्रासाव् एकेनाभ्येत्य तां सुताम् ।
याचितो ऽभूद् द्विजाग्र्येण श्रुततद्रूपसंपदा ॥ १२,१२.१२ ॥
There is an old city by the name of Ujjayinī. It was once ruled by a king named Puṇyasena. The king had a dependable minister whose name was Harisvāmin, one who was well-educated and knowledgable. He had a dedicated wife, and an able son named Devasvāmin. He also had a daughter named Somaprabhā (the one who shines with the beauty of the moon). True to her name, Somaprabhā’s beauty was unrivalled in all of Ujjayinī.
In a few years, it became time for Somaprabhā to get married. Being very proud of her matchless beauty, she asked her mother to tell her father and brother that she wanted a specific kind of husband.
“I should be offered in marriage to a man who is very brave, or a man who is very knowledgable, or a man who has great talent. I will not marry anyone else, and I am firm on my decision.”
Her father heard of this unusual request, and started to feel stressed. Finding such a husband would surely be tough! In the meanwhile, he was sent as an ambassador to negotiate a treaty with the king of the Deccan, who had plans to invade Ujjayinī.
As soon as Harisvāmin was back, he was approached by a Brahmin youth, who had heard of the beauty of his daughter. ” I would like to marry her”, said the Brahmin.
to be continued…