Once upon a time in the town of Vañjaimânagar(ancient Indian town), there ruled a king, named Śivâchâr. He was a most just king, and ruled so well that no stone thrown up fell down, no crow pecked at the new drawn milk, the lion and the bull drank water from the same pond, and peace and prosperity reigned throughout the kingdom. Notwithstanding all these blessings, care always sat on his face. The fruit which makes life in this world sweet, the redeemer to him from the horrible Naraka of Put(Hell), a Putra, he had not. His days and nights he spent in praying that God might bless him with a son. Wherever he saw pîpal trees (Aśvattharâjas - Ficus religiosa), he ordered Brâhmaṇs to surround them. Whatever medicines the doctors recommended he was ever ready to swallow, however bitter they might be. “Eat even dung to get a son,” says the proverb, and accordingly he did every thing to secure that happiness, but all in vain.
Śivâchâr had a minister, named Kharavadana, a most wicked tyrant as ever lived in the world. The thought that the king was without an heir, and had no hopes of one, awakened in his mind the ambition of securing for his family the throne of Vañjaimânagar. Śivâchâr knew this well. But what could he do. His only care was to send up additional prayers to frustrate the thoughts of Kharavadana, and to secure for himself a good position after death, without undergoing the severe torments of the Put-hell.
At last fortune favoured Śivâchâr; for what religious man fails to secure his desire? The king in his sixtieth year had a son. His joy can better be imagined than described. Lacs (Lâkhs) of Brâhmaṇs were fed in honour of the son-birth festival, Putrôtsavam, as it is technically called. The state prisons were opened, and all the prisoners let loose. Thousands of kine and innumerable acres of land were offered to Brâhmaṇs, and every kind of charity was duly practised. The ten days of the Sûtikâgṛihavâsa (confinement) were over. On the eleventh day the father saw his much longed-for son’s face, and read on the lines of it great prosperity, learning, valour, goodness and every excellent quality.
The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn what Fear Was
Category: Andrew Lang
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