Red apples and red rubies…

Read the previous part here

“I have now warned you of what is about to occur”, concluded the deva. “I will set out now, but do not be negligent. Things will start to happen…very soon.”

Illustration by the renowned Karatholuvu Chandrasekaran Shivashankaran

The deva then left the scene, and King Vikram continued on his journey towards his capital.

He was received with great joy and rejoicing – the whole kingdom woke up to this wonderful news, and celebrations began all over. People of all ages, from all walks of life, from near and afar – all came together at the royal palace, with gifts and sweets. Every house lit diyas in the evening and prayed for the well-being of their king. Thus began the second rule of King Vikram.

It had been over a year since the king returned.

On his birthday, the king was at his daily darshana and receiving gifts and blessings, when a sadhu named ShāntiShila (the one who is calm), arrived at his court. He brought an apple with him, and when he went in front of the king, bowed and presented him the apple. He then sat at the court for some time, and left subsequently.

The king suddenly recalled the deva’s words…“I have now warned you of what is about to occur”, concluded the deva. “I will set out now, but do not be negligent. Things will start to happen…very soon.”

“Perhaps this is the yogi that the deva spoke about”, thought the king. He then called one of his servants, and gave the apple to him ,asking him to store it carefully.

A year passed. It was the king’s birthday once again.

Once again he was at his court, receiving greetings from his subjects, when he saw ShāntiShila…and once again, he was given the apple, which he handed over to his servant.

This continued, for twelve years.

On the thirteenth year, the king did not give the fruit to his attendant. Instead, he carried it with him to his stables, when on the way, he saw a hungry monkey that had recently escaped from captivity. He threw the fruit at it, and the monkey grabbed it and bit into it. No sooner had it bitten off a portion, when a large red ruby fell out of the apple, onto the ground.

The king and his ministers were astonished. “Where are the other fruits that I had given you?”, questioned Vikram to his attendant.

“They are in a safe locker, in the palace chambers”, came the scared response.

The king and his entourage rushed to the locker, and it was opened. The fruits had rotted, but twelve rubies shone on the floor.

It was the fourteenth year, and ShāntiShila made his appearance at the king’s court once again.

“Oh great yogi, why have you been giving me rubies hidden in these apples?” said the king, when presented with the apple.

“Oh great king! It is written in the Shāstrās that one should not go empty handed to meet a king, a guru, an astrologer, a physician or a young girl, since gifts always result in rewards to oneself. Each of the fruits that I have given you, contains a jewel”, replied the yogi.

King Vikram ordered the rubies to be brought to him, and also ordered the royal jeweller to be present.

“We come into this world empty-handed. And we leave empty-handed. All we possess is virtue, and that stays with us throughout our lifetime. And so, first please assess the value of these gems”, he said to the royal jeweler.

“Oh great king, you have spoken the truth. One who possesses virtue, possesses everything. It is only virtue that stays with us – riches, power, prestige, all come and go. My king, each of these gems is invaluable, priceless pieces that have no equal. Each ruby is worth a kingdom, and more. There is no one who can put a price on any of them, and there is no one who can pay a price, or even a tenth, for any of them”, replied the jeweler.

The king, having heard what the jeweler had to say, thanked him, turned to the yogi and said…

to be continued…