Lost but not found :
“This is the sixteenth time you are taking me!” the betal said and it told a new story.
King Gowtham was a reckless man! He seldom performed his duties. Instead, he left the responsibilities to his ministers and was always gambling at high stakes.
Sometimes he won. But many times he lost! But for every time he lost, it tempted him to go for another round and try his luck! That was his major weakness!
Some of the ministers who did not like it had quitted. As usual, one day he was gambling. He had brought money from the treasury. Gradually he was losing in every game. “All right, whatever may happen, let me push my luck forward for the last time. This time, let me stake my kingdom!” he said and played.
There was total silence. First he seemed to be winning. Then the landslide began. At last, he lost! So the kingdom was changed in hands! His opponent who won the game sent Gowtham out of the country! Now, having lost all that he had, he wandered off inside the forest like a nomad.
There was a small temple of Lord Shiva. Gowtham saw a saint in the temple
in deep meditation. He sat away from the saint. After sometime, the saint opened his eyes. Gowtham fell at his feet and narrated his plight. The saint felt sorry. He offered him some dry figs to eat. Gowtham refused saying that he never ate them!
The saint understood that Gowtham was a weak-hearted man. Through his
mystical powers, he created a palace with a pretty young girl to serve him. “It’s all yours!” said the saint.
That night, Gowtham had the royal feast in a golden plate. The maiden invited him in and served one item after another. In between, he had a glass of wine too. Everything tasted very nice to him.
Then the maiden guided him to the bedroom. It was spacious with a big open
window through which the full moon was visible! A big cot was arranged for him. And there was a sweet smell inside the room. He stretched on the bed. It was more than a dream!
The next morning when he woke up, he had a shock! He found himself sleeping on the dirty forest ground!
At once, he went to the saint and enquired. He taught him some mantras. “Stand continuously in the river for 40 days and chant this mantra. You will gain mystical powers!” he said.
Gowtham did as directed by the saint. There was a pond near the temple. He stood till his waist was covered with water and chanted the mantras. After 40 days, he was still there as before. There was no change in him! No palace materialized nor any woman appeared to serve him! He went back to the saint.
“As informed by you, I have stood in the water for 40 days. Yet I do not find any difference internally or externally. Has your mantra become false or what would be the reason?” he asked the saint.
The saint blinked. “I could not guess why it did not come out right. Anyways, try these tapas. I mean one more penance. Light a circular
fire and stand in the middle. Keep saying the same mantra for 40 days, non-stop!” the saint gave a second suggestion.
Gowtham was so adamant in getting back his lost kingdom. He went away and selected a suitable open ground and gathered sufficient fire wood to last for 40 days and piled them up and lit the fire wood.
Then standing in the middle of the fire, he chanted the mantras. Whether
rain or shine, he did not stop! As the days passed, he sensed victory. At last, the 40th day arrived. He was happy. He thought that he would get what he wanted!
But all the same! He found no improvement within him. He waited for one
more day. Yet there seemed no progress. He went to the saint again and complained. “Is it true or you have fooled me?” he snapped at him.
The betal made a peculiar noise before it asked, “Vikram, why not even one penance of Gowtham’s was successful? Has the saint taught him any ineffective or false mantras? What is the reason?”
“Penance means nothing but self-suffering. It is to be carried out with an open heart…not expecting any personal gains or earthly pleasures. Gowtham failed in these aspects. His mind was on his pleasure all the time. That’s why his penance failed and he could not find what he had lost” said Vikram.
“Now let me get lost. Try to find me!” the betal smirked and zipped past.
Lost but not found
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