Stories of Vikram and Betal
Betal's Tenth Story: Marvellous delicacy of three queens
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The Betal said, O king, in the Gaur country, Vardhman by name, there is a city, and one called Gunshekhar was the Raja of that land. His minister was one Abhaichand, a Jain, by whose teachings the king also came into the Jain faith.
The worship of Shiva and of Vishnu, gifts of cows, gifts of lands, gifts of rice balls, gaming and spirit-drinking, all these he prohibited. In the city no man could get leave to do them, and as for bones, into the Ganges no man was allowed to throw them, and in these matters the minister, having taken orders from the king, caused a proclamation to be made about the city, saying, "Whoever these acts shall do, the Raja having confiscated, will punish him and banish him from the city."
Now one day the Diwan began to say to the Raja, "O great king, to the decisions of the Faith be pleased to give ear. Whosoever takes the life of another, his life also in the future birth is taken: this very sin causes him to be born again and again upon earth and to die And thus he ever continues to be born again and to die. Hence for one who has found entrance into this world to cultivate religion is right and proper. Be pleased to behold! By love, by wrath, by pain, by desire, and by fascination overpowered, the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahadeva (Shiva) in various ways upon the earth are ever becoming incarnate. Far better than they is the Cow, who is free from passion, enmity, drunkenness, anger, covetousness, and inordinate affection, who supports mankind, and whose progeny in many ways give ease and solace to the creatures of the world These deities and sages (munis) believe in the Cow.
"For such reason to believe in the gods is not good. Upon this earth be pleased to believe in the Cow. It is our duty to protect the life of everyone, beginning from the elephant, through ants, beasts, and birds, up to man. In the world righteousness equal to that there is none. Those who, eating the flesh of other creatures, increase their own flesh, shall in the fulness of time assuredly obtain the fruition of Narak; hence for a man it is proper to attend to the conversation of life. They who understand not the pain of other creatures, and who continue to slay and to devour them, last but few days in the land, and return to mundane existence, maimed, limping, one-eyed, blind, dwarfed, hunchbacked, and imperfect in such wise. Just as they consume the bodies of beasts and of birds, even so they end by spoiling their own bodies. From drinking spirits also the great sin arises, hence the consuming of spirits and flesh is not advisable."
The minister having in this manner explained to the king the sentiments of his own mind, so brought him over to the Jain faith, that whatever he said, so the king did. Thus in Brahmans, in Jogis, in Janganis, in Sevras, in Sannyasis, and in religious mendicants, no man believed, and according to this creed the rule was carried on.
Now one day, being in the power of Death, Raja Gunshekhar died. Then his son Dharmadhwaj sat upon the carpet (throne), and began to rule. Presently he caused the minister Abhaichand to be seized, had his head shaved all but seven locks of hair, ordered his face to be blackened, and mounting him on an ass, with drums beaten, had him led all about the city, and drove him from the kingdom. From that time he carried on his rule free from all anxiety.
It so happened that in the season of spring, the king Dharmadhwaj, taking his queens with him, went for a stroll in the garden, where there was a large tank with lotuses blooming within it. The Raja admiring its beauty, took off his clothes and went down to bathe.
After plucking a flower and coming to the bank, he was going to give it into the hands of one of his queens, when it slipped from his fingers, fell upon her foot, and broke it with the blow. Then the Raja being alarmed, at once came out of the tank, and began to apply remedies to her.
Hereupon night came on, and the moon shone brightly: the falling of its rays on the body of the second queen formed blisters And suddenly from a distance the sound of a wooden pestle came out of a householder's dwelling, when the third queen fainted away with a severe pain in the head
Having spoken thus much the Baital said "O my king! of these three which is the most delicate?" The Raja answered, "She indeed is the most delicate who fainted in consequence of the headache." The Baital hearing this speech, went and hung himself from the very same tree, and the Raja, having gone there and taken him down and fastened him in the bundle and placed him on his shoulder, carried him away.
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