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Retaliation - Palikkuppali

There is a proverb in Tamil̤ called Palikkuppali vâṅgukiradu which would best be translated by the expression “tit for tat,” and the following story I heard when a boy from my step-mother, illustrating that proverb, and I have of late found the same story also in the Trichinopoly districts.

In a certain village there lived a poor Śûdra. He had made a vow to the goddess of his village, that if he came out successfully in a certain undertaking he would offer her a couple of goats. And he succeeded in his undertaking, and thought that his goddess alone had granted his request. Great was his joy and greater became his faith in her extraordinary powers. And as he promised he brought two fat goats and sacrificed them to her.

These goats thus sacrificed and the Śûdra sacrificer who meanwhile had died by a sudden fever, after a short time were all re-born in the world to undergo the results of their goodness or sin. The two goats, because they were sacrificed to the goddess, were re-born as the king and the minister of a large country. The Śûdra, as he had as much faith in his former life as in his goddess, was reborn in the priest’s (gurukkula) caste, of course neither the king and his minister nor the priest had any reason to know their former life, until the death of the latter approached, as we shall presently see. A large kingdom fell to the share of the king, and he with his minister reigned over it most peacefully. In an unfrequented wilderness was a famous temple of a powerful goddess of of that country, and in that pagoda the priest regularly conducted her worship.

Thus passed several years, the king and minister happy in their own kingdom, and the priest executing his religious duties in the wilderness. The priest was leading a most calm and holy life, eating what grew in the wilderness. His life was as pure as pure can be.

But for all that fate would not forgive him for his acts in his former life.

The king and the minister had vowed to the goddess of the wilderness that if they returned successfully from the conquest of an enemy of theirs they would offer her some human sacrifice.

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