The Noble King :
Once upon a time King Gunasheel ruled over Mithila. Though he was young, he was a just and noble king and all his subjects loved him. In a remote village in the kingdom of Mithila there was a young man named Surender. He was a well read and hardworking young man. Surender decided that he wanted to work for His King. So he left for the
capital of Mithila and went to the palace gates to try to meet the king. But alas, he
was not allowed to enter the palace gates. The guards sent him away each time for some reason another.
But Surender would not give up. One day Surender was told that the king would not see anyone because he was going into the forest to hunt. Surender decided that this was the right time to meet the king. He waited at the outskirts of the forest. As soon as he saw the king go by on his horse, he followed the king into the forest on foot.
The king had a disappointing day hunting. By the evening, he was deep inside the forest. Suddenly the king realised that he was lost. Though he was confident of finding his way out, he knew that after a whole day’s exertion, his horse was very tired. He decided to
rest there in the forest and go back to his kingdom in the morning. The king washed himself and quenched his thirst at a clear pool in the forest. But he was terribly hungry since he had eaten nothing since daybreak. But since he had carried no food, he lay down with his stomach empty.
Just when King Gunasheel was drifting away into an exhausted sleep, he heard a voice call out in the darkness, “Is that your majesty the king?”
The king called out in the darkness, “Who are you? And what are you doing in the forest in the middle of the night?”
But the man answered, “Your majesty, I am Surender a loyal subject.”
The man came forward and the king realised that he was young. The young man knelt in
front of the king and said, “O King Gunasheel, my name is Surender. I am from the village of Panchavati.”
Then he said, “Your Majesty looks hungry and tired. Can I offer you my humble meal?”
The king gratefully accepted the dry bread and curry and ate it up hungrily. Then Surender offered to be on guard while the king took some badly needed rest. In the morning the king asked the young man to sit behind him on his horse. The king took him to his palace and gave him the job of being his adviser. King Gunasheel also gave
him a palace to live in. Surender was loyal and wise and proved to be an efficient adviser.
One day when Surender was out on a walk, he saw a stunningly beautiful young maiden. He could not help but stop and look at her in disbelief. As he stood there looking at her, she saw him and smiled at him.
She then surprised him by asking him, “Do you want to marry me?”
He said “Yes.”
She then asked him to meet her at the same time the next day. “I will bring my mother so
that she can meet you and give us her consent and blessings.”
When he went to work that day, he could not help but tell the king about what happened. The king decided to go along with his adviser to see this girl. The next day at the appointed time, the girl came with her mother.
But on seeing the king, she asked Surender, “Who is this friend of yours?” When she was told that he was the king, she bowed to him and said, “I want to marry the king.”
Hearing this Surender said to the king, “If your majesty wishes so. I will be glad to step aside.”
Upon this the king asked her, “Why do you want to marry me?”
The girl replied, “O king, it is not because I have an unfaithful heart. But because I have
always wanted to live in a palace.”
Then King Gunasheel said, “What if I give him a palace which he will own, will you
then marry my friend and adviser?”
The girl agreed. The marriage was performed and Surender and his wife lived happily.
Betal asked King Vikram, “You have seen how Surender was willing to step aside to bow to the wishes of the king. You have also seen how King Gunashccl did all that was necessary to ensure that Surender married the girl he loved. Now who in your judgement is the nobler of the two?”
King Vikram said, “Surender bowed to the wishes of the king because of loyalty and duty. But King Gunasheel’s act was nobler. He acted out of love. He did everything to make sure that his friend and adviser was happy.”
Betal replied “You are absolutely right O King. But now I have to go.”
King Vikram had to follow Betal to the banyan tree.
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