Read the previous part here…
The king agreed, and consulted some wise men. “My wife has given birth to a girl with three breasts. Is this something I should be worried about?”
The wise men replied “This child will not bring you any disrepute, but you should give her away, and when she reaches marriageable age, you should get her married to someone outside the kingdom. That is the only way forward.”
The king agreed. His messengers spread out all over the country, offering one hundred thousand gold coins to anyone who would adopt the girl. No one came forward.
Time passed. The girl now reached marriageable age. The king had kept her far away from the public eye, in a secluded fortress, guarded by a small army. The king’s messengers continued their announcements every year, but no one had come forward to claim the reward…yet.
In the same city, lived a blind man named Chitrāksh (the one with beautiful eyes) who stayed with his dwarf friend Mantharaka (the stupid one). Mantharaka wasn’t dwarfed because his limbs were short – rather, his limbs had become crooked due to a rare disease, and hence he had become dwarf-like. They depended on each other, with Mantharaka walking with a stick ahead, and Chitrāksh holding him and following him everywhere. Both of them barely made enough money to survive.
One day, as they were walking along, they heard the king’s messengers announce the reward.
” If we manage to get this girl, we will be rewarded with gold and this will help us lead a much more comfortable life”, remarked Chitrāksh.
“And if we die due to the possible bad luck that she will bring to us, then so be it. In fact, it will be a blessing in disguise – we will be free from this wretched poverty once and for all”, continued Mantharaka.
“After all, it is said…”
लज्जा स्नेहः स्वर-मधुरता बुद्धयो यौवन-श्रीः कान्तासङ्गः स्वजन-ममता दुःख-हानिर् विलासः ।
धर्मः शास्त्रं सुर-गुरु-मतिः शौचम् आचार-चिन्ता पूर्णे सर्वे जठर-पिठरे प्राणिनां सम्भवन्ति ॥ ९१ ॥
lajjā snehaḥ svara-madhuratā buddhayo yauvana-śrīḥ kāntāsaṅgaḥ svajana-mamatā duḥkha-hānir vilāsaḥ |
dharmaḥ śāstraṃ sura-guru-matiḥ śaucam ācāra-cintā pūrṇe sarve jaṭhara-piṭhare prāṇināṃ sambhavanti || 91 ||
Love, music, wit, shame, character, education, scriptures, virtue, charm, reverence for the elders, religion, cleanliness, morals, duty…a man thinks of all these only after his belly is full…else, these don’t matter much to him.
And so Chitrāksh approached the king’s messenger and said “I am willing to marry the girl, if the king agrees…”
This news reached the king. His messengers had said ” A blind man has offered to marry the princess, if you agree to the match. What should we do?”
The king said ” Blind, deaf, crippled or otherwise, I agree to the match. Let him marry her and leave the country to settle elsewhere.”
The order was fulfilled. The king’s men took the blind man to the banks of the river, and married him off to the princess. They then gave him a big bag of the promised reward, and instructed a boatman who was waiting on the shore, to take the newly-wed couple far away from the kingdom, and only then release them. The couple sat in the boat, and set out on their new journey together…
to be continued…