Vikram Betaal: Reward of life/true reward
King Vikram was on his mission to get Betaal for the sage seeking occult powers. It was a dark moonless night and it was raining intermittently. The only source of light was sporadic flashes of lightning. Making the atmosphere more eerie, were the howls ......
King Vikram was on his mission to get Betaal for the sage seeking occult powers. It was a dark moonless night and it was raining intermittently. The only source of light was sporadic flashes of lightning. Making the atmosphere more eerie, were the howls of jackals. King Vikram was unmindful of his surroundings and focused only on his aim of carrying out the sage’s wish. He mounted Betaal on his shoulders and started walking towards the cremation ground, where the sage was waiting for him. As soon as king Vikram took his first step, Betaal started another one of his stories.
The story was like this: Many years ago, King Chandradeep ruled over Kanchannagar. He had a beautiful daughter named Indumati. Being the only child, the princess was brought up like a boy, and given training in the use of weapons and warfare. The princes of many of the neighbouring kingdoms coveted to marry Indumati.
When Indumati reached a marriageable age,her father started looking for a suitable bridegroom for her. Indumati put a condition before his father that she would only marry the suitor who would clear all the tests given by her. The king gladly agreed, but when he saw the list of the tests that Indumati had designed for the suitors, he was taken aback. All of the tests were extremely dangerous and hazardous. He said to the princess that no one would risk his life and appear for such difficult tests. But, Indumati was adamant on having those tests only for the suitors. She thought that the one who truly loved her, would certainly clear all the tests.
And thus, a royal announcement about the princess wedding was made and the suitors would have to take certain tests. This announcement was made in all the neighbouring kingdoms as well.
A young handicapped man named Kurupshana from Jayanagar heard it. His mother had died soon after his birth. His father had remarried and his stepmother despised him. She ill-treated him and called him good for nothing because of his handicap.
Kurupshana decided to go to Kanchannagar. Many princes were gathered there to hear out the details of the tests. The king’s minister came and announced, “Dear all, as you know that you will only be eligible to win the hand of our princess if you clear all the tests that she has laid out for you. The first test is that you have to climb the twenty feet wall and jump down into the three-tiered cage of sharp knives. The important thing is, while doing so, you must not injure yourself. There should not be a single scratch on your body from the blades of the knives. Then only, you would be eligible for the next level.”
When the suitors had a look at the high wall and the narrow space between the sharp knives, all of them retreated back to their seats. None of them dared even to make an attempt. It looked as though no suitor was willing to take the test. The king regretted that his daughter had not accepted his advice.
Kurupshana was watching all this from his seat. He thought as it everybody considered him to be a useless fellow,so even if he dies while attempting the stunt, it would not be anybody’s loss. He walked up to King Chandradeep and expressed his desire to appear for the test. The king and the princess’ heart sank when they saw that an ugly and handicapped man was daring to attempt the stunt and wondered what they would do if he really managed to clear the test successfully. The king hesitantly granted permission to Kurupshana.
Kurupshana went up the wall, took a good look at the tiers of knives and jumped down. He landed between the knives without getting even the slightest bruise on his body. He then walked towards the king and the princess and said “His Majesty! Please do not worry. I may have cleared the test, but I do not wish to marry the princess. I only wanted to take the challenge and now I know that I have succeeded in doing what the others could not do. That in itself is a big reward and I can now face life.” He humbly bowed down before the king and left for home.
Betaal ended his story and asked Vikramaditya “King! Don’t you think that Kurupshana behaved like a fool? If he had no intention of marrying the princess, why did he decide to undergo the test?” And after having succeeded in the test, why did he not want to marry her?
Vikram replied, “Kurupshana was a handicapped young man. He was aware his handicap bothered his stepmother. He wished that she changed her opinion about him. He could now tell her that where people with no handicap had failed, he came out as a victor, despite his handicap. He did not undergo the test with the hope of marrying the princess.” King Vikram further added, “Kurupshana also knew that if he married her, he would one day have to take the reins of the kingdom. But as a ruler, he would not be able even hold a sword in his hand and protect his kingdom. So, it would not be a wise decision for him to marry her. That is why he politely declined to marry the princess. He was indeed a very wise person, not a fool.”
Betaal knew that the king will definitely get the answer, so he flew back to the ancient tree carrying the corpse along with him. Vikramaditya drew his sword and went after Betaal.