The most sensitive of men…

Read the previous part here

Now I have a question for you. Which of the three brothers was the most sensitive? Remember, if you know the answer, and don’t tell me the truth, your head will burst into a hundred pieces!

Illustration by the renowned Karatholuvu Chandrasekaran Shivashankaran

तच् छ्रुत्वैव स धीमान् वेतालं प्रत्युवाच तं नृपतिः ।
अहम् एषां निःकैतवम् अधिकं जानामि तूलिकाचङ्गम् ॥ १२,१५.५० ॥

यस्याङ्गे प्रत्यक्षं वालप्रतिबिम्बम् उद्गतं दृष्टम् ।
इतराभ्यां हि भवेत् तत् पूर्वं जात्व् अन्यतो ऽवगतम् ॥ १२,१५.५१ ॥

इति तस्योक्तवतो ऽंसाद् वेतालो भूपतेर् ययौ प्राग्वत् ।
सो ऽपि तथैव च राजा तम् अन्वयासीद् अनिर्विण्णः ॥ १२,१५.५२ ॥

King Vikram replied…

“I consider the man who was sensitive about what he slept on, as the most sensitive of the three. The mark caused by the hair manifested on his cheek, and was seen by one and all. The other two may have been sensitive as well, but it is also possible that they had received information about the rice and the maiden from someone else. This was not possible in the case of the youngest, since there was explicit proof of his sensitivity.”

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. 

We have completed eight stories, and there are 17 more to go. I wanted to know if you are enjoying these stories, and the answers that King Vikram provided to the questions posed by the Vetāla.

Do remember the context of these stories, narrated thousands of years ago, in a society that was very different from now. While basic human nature has not changed, there are a lot of facets of society that have undergone complete transformations, and so some of the ideas and situations presented in these stories may seem outlandish or impossible.

I would approach these stories with the curiosity of a child – with open eyes and an open mind, with wonder and anticipation, rather than weighing in with the yardstick of logic. After all, stories are meant to be magical…for logic, we do have daily life to contend with.

Vetāla continues tomorrow!

to be continued…