The Noblest of All :
In the kingdom of Ghosla, there ruled a king by the name of Aryaputra. One day an old man came to his palace and announced to the guards that he was the king’s cousin and demanded to see King Aryaputra. When the king consented to see him and asked him why he was there, the old man spoke to the king in riddles.
He said, “O king, your mother and my mother are sisters. I once had a beautiful house. But now it is all worn out and falling to pieces. I once had two friends who were very close. But now they have gone very far. I also had two friends who were very far. But now they have come very close. Before, I could do with only two, now I need three.”
King Aryaputra read through the riddle immediately. He knew that the old man meant that he was poor and therefore the son of Narayanee. The king was rich and therefore the son of Lakshmi. That is why the old man had claimed that they were cousins, for it
was believed that Narayanee the goddess of poverty and Lakshmi the goddess of wealth were sisters. As for the other statements, what the old man had meant was that his body was weak due to old age. He was growing deaf. His eyesight was failing and that he needed a stick to support himself.
King Aryaputra was amazed at the clever way the old man had sought his help and offered him a huge reward. But the old man ripped off his disguise and there stood a young man. The young man told the king that he had done all this to prove to the king that he was clever and asked the king to employ him. He promised the king that he would serve with absolute loyalty. The king agreed and made him the Minister of the Affairs of
the Royal Palace.
The young man whose name was Aravinda proved to be a clever and capable administrator. The king was happy with him. Then one night as Aravinda was just completing his duties, he heard the sound of a woman crying loudly in the courtyard.
Aravinda stepped out to her and asked her, “Who are you O lady and why are you crying so bitterly?”
The lady answered, “I am Lakshmi the goddess of wealth. I am crying because I have to
leave King Aryaputra’s palace and go. In my place my sister Narayanee is going to
occupy the palace.”
Unknown to Aravinda, King Aryaputra had also come there stealthily. He was curious to
see who the lady was and also wanted to see how Aravinda performed his duties.
Aravinda asked the goddess, “How can this calamity be averted?”
She answered, “Only if some one who is loyal to the king sacrifices his son to the
goddess Kali, will this calamity be averted.”
Aravinda hurried home with the king following stealthily behind. Aravinda lived with his wife and children. They had a son and a daughter. He told his wife of the incident.
She said, “We must be loyal to the king and sacrifice our son to Kali to avert this calamity.”
So they took their son and daughter in the middle of the night to the temple of Kali and beheaded their son. When their daughter saw her brother dead, she snatched the sword and killed herself. On seeing her two children dead, his wife also in turn killed herself.
Aravinda picked up the sword and cut his head off also. King Aryaputra who had witnessed the whole episode was filled with sadness. He also ended his life. With this
Betal ended his story and asked King Vikram, “You saw so many people giving up their lives. Who was the noblest of them all?”
King Vikram thought for a while and said, “Aravinda sacrificed his son out of a sense of loyalty, so there was a motive. In the same way, his daughter, his wife and even Aravinda himself died because of grief. But King Aryaputra had no motive to give up his life. That is why his sacrifice was the noblest. So King Aryaputra was the noblest of them all.”
Betal said, “You are an exceptionally wise king. But you spoke and I therefore have to leave. Once again Betal slipped off towards the banyan tree. But King Vikram turned around and retraced his steps back to the banyan tree determined to complete his task.
The Noblest of All
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