Tell me, who is to blame?

Read the previous part here

When I finished my meditation in the morning, I realized that the pearl necklace was still with me. I am not a man of the world, I have no use for much material possessions. And so I asked my disciple here, to go the market and dispose of it….

Illustration by the renowned Karatholuvu Chandrasekaran Shivashankaran

एतच् छ्रुत्वा पुराध्यक्षो गत्वा भूपं व्यजिज्ञपत् ।
भूपो ऽप्य् आकर्ण्य तत् तां च बुद्ध्वा तन्मौक्तिकावलीम् ॥ १२,८.१७८ ॥

प्रेक्षणप्रेषितायातवृद्धाप्तवनितामुखात् ।
श्रुत्वा च दृश्यशूलाङ्कां जघने सत्यम् एव ताम् ॥ १२,८.१७९ ॥

ग्रस्तः सुतो मे डकिन्या तयेत्य् उत्पन्ननिश्चयः ।
स्वयं तस्यान्तिकं गत्वा मन्त्रिपुत्रतपस्विनः ॥ १२,८.१८० ॥

पृष्ट्वा च निग्रहं तस्याः पद्मावत्याः स तद्गिरा ।
पितृभ्यां शोच्यमानायाः पुरान् निर्वासनं व्यधात् ॥ १२,८.१८१ ॥

निर्वासिताटवीस्था सा विग्नापि न जहौ तनुम् ।
उपायं मन्त्रिपुत्रेण तं संभाव्य तथा कृतम् ॥ १२,८.१८२ ॥

दिनान्ते तां च शोचन्तीम् अश्वारूढाव् उपेयतुः ।
त्यक्ततापसवेषौ तौ मन्त्रिपुत्रनृपात्मजौ ॥ १२,८.१८३ ॥

आश्वास्यारोप्य तुरगे स्वराष्ट्रं निन्यतुश् च ताम् ।
तत्र तस्थौ तया साकं राजपुत्रः स निर्वृतः ॥ १२,८.१८४ ॥

दन्तघाटस् त्व् अरण्ये तां क्रव्यादैर् भक्षितां सुताम् ।
मत्वा व्यपादि शोकेन भार्या चानुजगाम तम् ॥ १२,८.१८५ ॥

When the judge heard this, he went and informed the king, stating that he suspected that the pearl necklace was of Padmāvatī, the daughter of the ivory carver. “If it is indeed her necklace, then she must be the one whom the ascetic branded with his trishul”, he reasoned.

The king sent his maids to check if Padmāvatī had the mark on her hips. They returned, saying that the mark was indeed there. This infuriated the king, who now became convinced that she was the one who had cast a spell on his son. And so he sought counsel of the wise ascetic (Buddhiśarīra) and asked him how he ought to punish Padmāvatī.

“Cast her out of the kingdom at once”, said Buddhiśarīra.

The king ordered the needful. Her parents cried and lamented, but the king’s men did not relent. Padmāvatī was dropped off in the forest, where she continued to walk aimlessly, dejected and crying.

Although she was humiliated, she did not give up her body, knowing very well that it was Buddhiśarīra who was behind all these developments.

In the meanwhile, Buddhiśarīra and VajraMukuta abandoned their ascetic robes, collected their horses, and rode out into the forest, searching for Padmāvatī. They found her wandering close to the border, clothes torn, crying loudly. They comforted her, gave her some warm clothes to cover herself with, and took her with them to their own kingdom, where the prince lived with her, happily ever after.

But it did not end well for Saṅgrāmavardhana. The ivory carver died of grief, thinking that his dear daughter had died in the forest, and his wife followed soon after.

इत्य् आख्याय स भूयस् तं वेतालो नृपम् अब्रवीत् ।
तन् मे ऽत्र संशयं छिन्द्धि दंपत्योर् एतयोर् वधात् ॥ १२,८.१८६ ॥

मन्त्रिपुत्रस्य किं पापं राजपुत्रस्य किं नु वा ।
पद्मावत्याः किम् अथ वा त्वं हि बुद्धिमतां वरः ॥ १२,८.१८७ ॥

जानानश् च न चेद् राजन् मम तत्त्वं वदिष्यसि ।
तद् एष शतधा मूर्धा निश्चितं ते स्फुटिष्यति ॥ १२,८.१८८ ॥

The Vetāla finished his story, and then addressed King Vikram…

Now, I have a question for you. Was Buddhiśarīra guilty of the death of Saṅgrāmavardhana and his wife, or was it VajraMukuta, or Padmāvatī? 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!

King Vikram replied…

to be continued…

Well well, now this is a question for you as well:)

I thought of writing on, but then, I leave you to think about who may be the one to blame. You are King Vikram, and you now know the whole story. Reason it out, and check tomorrow if you were correct. Let’s not guess, but spend some time in understanding the characters, their responsibilities and their behavior. And then arrive at an answer.

All the best!