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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "The Conquest of Fate"

The Conquest of Fate

In the good old days even of this Kaliyuga learned people, after fully enjoying the world, retired to the forests, with or without their wives, to pass the decline of life in solemn solitude and contemplation.When they went with their wives they were said to undergo the vânaprastha stage of family life.

The hoary sage of our story was undergoing vânaprastha, for he was in the woods with his wife. His name while living was Jñânanidhi. He had built a neat parṇaśâlâ, or cottage of leaves, on the banks of the commingled waters of the Tuṅgâ and Bhadrâ, and here his days and nights were spent in meditation. Though old in years he retained the full vigour of manhood, the result of a well-spent youth. The life of his later years was most simple and sinless.

“Remote from man, with God he passed his days;

Prayer all his business, all his pleasures praise.”

The wood yielded him herbs, fruits, and roots, and the river, proverbial for its sweet waters, supplied him with drink. He lived, in fact, as simply as the bard who sang:—

“But from the mountain’s grassy side

A guiltless feast I bring;

A bag with herbs and fruits supplied,

And water from the spring.”

His faithful wife brought him these, while Jñânanidhi himself devoted his whole time to the contemplation of God.

Such was Jñânanidhi—the abode of all wise people—to whom the boy-philosopher, Subrahmanya, resorted. After questioning each other both were mightily pleased at the fortune which had brought them together. Jñânanidhi was glad to impart his hard-earned knowledge during his leisure moments to the young student, and Subrahmanya, with that longing which made him renounce the city and take to the woods eagerly swallowed and assimilated whatever was administered to him. He relieved his mother—for as such he regarded his master’s wife—of all her troubles, and used, himself, to go out to bring the fruits, herbs, and roots necessary for the repasts of the little family. Thus passed five years, by which time our young friend had become learned in the many branches of Aryan philosophy.

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