The Right Soul

The Right Soul :

When King Vikram went back and took possession of the betal, it told yet another story. In the holy town of Benares, there lived a Brahmin called Jayaram with his daughter, Vaidehi. Since they were very poor, no one came forward to marry Vaidehi! The father and daughter were very sad.

One night, when Vaidehi was sleeping keeping the door ajar, she heard some sound. Alarmed, she was awaken!

She saw the outline of a man standing inside. “Who are....!”

Even before she could blurt out, the man closed her mouth and whispered, “Don’t be afraid. I won’t do any harm to you. The palace guards are after me. If they catch me, they will put me to death. So, please save me,” he pleaded.

“Why should they come after you?” she asked, brushing his hand aside.

“A crafty merchant owed me some money. He kept dodging, not paying even after two years now. So, I snatched my money from him. But he made a scene, as if I was robbing money from him!” he replied, panting.

Vaidehi felt sorry for him. “Hide behind that empty barrel,” she indicated. Just then the palace guards stormed in.

“Has an escaped robber come over here?” one of them asked.

“No,” Vaidehi shook her head. The guards left.

Moments later, she lit up an oil lamp. The man came out from his hiding place. In the dim light, she saw he was young and handsome.

“Thank you for saving me. My name is Veeru. I am alone. Will you allow me to stay here for the night?” he asked.

She went and told her father about him.

“Sorry, you cannot stay here. I have an unmarried daughter,” refused Jayaram.

“All right, I will come tomorrow, not as an ordinary fellow, but as a groom of your daughter!”

That was how Veeru married Videhi. Veeru gave them all the money he had. They shifted to a new place and lived comfortably. Six months later, Vaidehi became pregnant.

“Good,” beamed Veeru.

“If so…it is time to start earning for our baby!”

The next day, he left to do some business. Another six months passed. Vaidehi gave birth to a male baby. She named the baby as Arjun. But Veeru never returned home! When Jayaram made enquiries, he was told that Veeru had been caught and was put to death for the robbery!

One day, Jayaram spoke to her, “Look, my daughter, I am getting aged. After me who you got to look after you? The child needs a father. So, I intend to marry you to another man!”

Accordingly, another kind hearted man, by name Anubhav married Vaidehi.

He said, “To me, Arjun is like my own son. I will take care of him and you. You have nothing to worry about!” Months later, Jayaram passed away!

Another man, named as Bur Anubhav too was very kind to Vaidehi and did everything as he had promised. He adored Arjun and reared him very well and gave good education to him. Soon Arjun grew up. He was handsome, intelligent and very affectionate towards his mother and father.

Then the misfortune happened to Arjun! Vaidehi died after a brief illness. And Anubhav too died a year later! Arjun became grief-stricken as he was left alone.

One day, a prohit advised Arjun. “It’s mandatory to all Brahmins like us to visit Gaya and perform the ceremony over there at least once in a life time. This way, the dead parents will reach the heaven!”

The following year, Arjun went to Gaya. There on the banks of the Holy Ganges under the guidance of another prohit, he did all the rituals. Finally, he took the offering called Pinda Pradha in a plantain leaf and approached the river. To his surprise, three pairs of hands rose above the water surface and demanded the offering!

Two pairs belonged to men. The third, with the bangles, belong to a woman.

"I am your mother, Vaidehi. Offer me the food,” she demanded.

Arjun remembered her voice. Then he heard a male voice addressing him, “I am your actual father, Veeru. I am the only one eligible to your offerings!” Similarly the third voice claimed, “It was I who reared you and gave you good education and looked after you and made you a man. So, I am the right soul to get your offerings!” It was Anubhav’s voice!

The betal terminated its narration. "Heard this story? Now tell me, who is the right person to claim the offerings?” it asked.

“Arjun’s mother did nothing more to her son than just giving birth. Veeru had left even before Arjun was born. But it was Anubhav who did all that as he had said. So, he is the right one to get the offerings!” answered Vikram.

“What a great judgement that is! But you spoke again. So, as agreed, here I go!” said the betal and slipped out of Vikram's hands!

Pinda Pradhan : According to Hindu customs, plain white rice, cooked and made in the form of a ball immersed in the river or sea as an offering to the departed soul!

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