Who is to blame?

Read the previous part here...

“So tell me, o King, who was to blame for Harisvāmin’s death ? Was it the kite, or the snake, or Padmanābha’s wife?

Remember, if you know the answer, and don’t tell me the truth, your head will burst into a hundred pieces!

Listen to this episode:

Illustration by the renowned Karatholuvu Chandrasekaran Shivashankaran

इति वेतालतो राजा श्रुत्वा शापनियन्त्रितः ।
स त्रिविक्रमसेनस् तं मुक्तमौनो ऽब्रवीद् इदम् ॥ १२,२०.५५ ॥

तस्य तत् पातकं तावत् सर्पस्य यदि वास्य कः ।
विवशस्यापराधो ऽस्ति भक्ष्यमाणस्य शत्रुणा ॥ १२,२०.५६ ॥

अथ स्येनस्य तेनापि किं दुष्टं क्षुधितात्मना ।
अकस्मात् प्राप्तम् आनीय भक्ष्यं भक्षयता निजम् ॥ १२,२०.५७ ॥

दंपत्योर् अन्नदात्रोर् वा तयोर् एकस्य वा कुतः ।
अभाव्यदोषौ धर्मैकप्रवृत्तौ ताव् उभौ यतः ॥ १२,२०.५८ ॥

तद् अहं तस्य मन्ये सा ब्रह्महत्या जडात्मनः ।
अविचार्यैव यो ब्रूयाद् एषाम् एकतमस्य ताम् ॥ १२,२०.५९ ॥

इत्य् उक्तवतो ऽस्य नृपस्यांसाद् भूयो ऽप्य् अगात् स वेतालः ।
निजपदम् एव नृपो ऽपि स पुनर् अपि धीरस् तम् अन्वगाद् एव ॥ १२,२०.६० ॥

King Vikram replied…

“Who could have committed this sin?”

“Certainly not the snake, for it was the victim, the helpless prey of it’s enemy, lying dead between it’s talons…”

“And what offence can the kite be accused of? He found his natural food, happened to be lucky enough to do so, and was eating it since he was hungry. He surely cannot be accused of killing Harisvāmin…”

“Coming to Padmanābha’s wife, well, she had played the good samaritan and fed the poor Brāhman some food. It is not her fault that he kept the food under the tree and the venom happened to fall from the snake’s fangs into the food.”

“When Harisvāmin returned to the house, after he was poisoned, he was not making much sense, and by the time she could understand what had happened, Harisvāmin passed away….”

“She was upholding Dharma, and cannot be accused of being responsible for his death.”

“In my opinion, anyone who thinks that any of these three are to blame, is the one on whom the sin of killing a Brāhman should be attributed!”

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.

to be continued…