King Vikram lifted Betaal over his shoulders and started walking towards the cremation ground, where the sage was waiting for him. As usual, Betaal started off with an interesting story about a young girl and three suitors.
The story went like this: Long ago there lived a Brahmin, Agniswamy in the town Brahmasthala situated on the bank of the river Kalindi. He had only one daughter named Mandaravati. She was very well groomed and extremely good to look at. When she reached a marriageable age, Agniswamy started looking for a suitable match for her.
One day, three young Brahmins arrived at Brahmasthala. They were learned and had a pleasing personality. When they happened to see Mandaravati, they were all smitten by her beauty. Each one of them wanted to marry her.
So, all of them approached Agniswamy and requested him for Mandaravati’s hand. Now, Agniswamy’s entire family, including Mandaravati were in a fix as to which one of the Brahmins to choose. All the three Brahmins were equal in all respects. None of them was able to take a decision. And then one day, when Mandarvati was absorbed in thinking about the three Brahmins, it so happened that a poisonous snake came inside the house and bit her. Agniswamy and his family, along with the three suitors were deeply shocked and saddened by this incident.
When Mandaravati was cremated, one of the three Brahmins collected her bones and went to the river Ganga to purify them by dipping them in the holy river. The second one built a house at the place of cremation and started living in it. The last one remembered Mandaravati very much and went on pilgrimage.
During his travel, once he stayed in a couple’s house in a village. The couple lived in a rented accommodation that belonged to a learned Brahmin. The husband was nice and kindhearted, but his wife was a wicked woman. One day, when her step child did mischief, she threw him into the fire. The child was burnt to ashes. The child’s father was devastated and wanted to end his life. Just then, the Brahmin who owned the house came there and consoled him. He took the holy water from Ganga and put it on the ashes reciting the ‘Mrita Sanjeevini’ hymn from his book of mantras. The child came to life again.
The young Brahmin was watching all this. That very night, he stole the book of mantras and rushed towards Brahmasthala. By the time he reached the cremation ground, the Brahmin who had been to the river Ganga had also returned.The other young Brahmin was also there in the hut. Destiny had brought all three of them together at one point once again.
The young Brahmin who had brought the book containing the hymn, asked the one who was guarding the ashes to put them on the ground. He then asked the other Brahmin to sprinkle the holy water of the Ganges on the ashes and put her bones on the ashes. He then, religiously started chanting mantras. On the completion of the mantras, Mandaravati sprung back to life. All three of them were overjoyed to see her, but then they started quarrelling.
“I recited the hymn and gave her life, that is why she is mine!” one of them said.
“But I kept her bones safe. Without the bones, it was not possible for Mandaravati to get back her life,” another Brahmin said.
“You could not have done anything had I not protected the ashes. So, I rightfully deserve her,” the third youth said.
And then, Betaal addressed king Vikram, “King Vikram! Now answer my question. How was the quarrel resolved? Who truly deserved the hand of Mandaravati? Knowing the answer if you remain silent, your head will split into a thousand pieces!”
“The Brahmin who gave life to Mandaravati is equivalent to her father. The person who took her bones to the river Ganges for dipping, did the duty of her son. The youth who made her ash as bed and slept on it, is her true lover and he is the one whom Mandarvati should marry,” Vikram replied.
Vikram broke his silence by replying to Betaal and thus, he flew back to the tree.