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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "VI.The Poisoned Food"

VI.The Poisoned Food

With this object he ran to the neighbouring village, and, reporting to the people what had occurred on the tope, requested their assistance in cremating the old man’s body.

The villagers, however, suspected that the young pilgrim had killed and robbed the old Brâhmiṇ; so they laid hold of him, and, after giving him a severe flogging, imprisoned him in the village temple of Kâlî. Alas! what a reward was this for his kind hospitality! and how was he repaid for his beneficence!

The unhappy pilgrim gave vent to his sorrows in the form of verses in praise of the goddess in whose temple he was a prisoner; for he was a great Paṇḍit, versed in the four Vêdas, and the six Śâstras, and the sixty-four varieties of knowledge. On hearing the pilgrim’s verses, the rage of the goddess descended upon the villagers, who had so rashly accused and punished him for a crime of which he was innocent. Suddenly the whole village was destroyed by fire, and the people lost all their property, and were houseless. In their extremity they went to the temple of Kâlî, and humbly requested the goddess to inform them of the cause of the calamity which had thus unexpectedly come upon them. The goddess infused herself into the person of one of the villagers, and thus responded:—

“Know ye, unkind villagers, that ye have most unjustly scourged and imprisoned in our presence an innocent, charitable, and pious Brâhmiṇ. The old man died from the effects of the poison, which dropped from a serpent’s mouth on some rice at the foot of a tree when it was being devoured by a kite. Ye did not know of this; nevertheless ye have maltreated a good man without first making due inquiry as to his guilt or innocence. For this reason we visited your village with this calamity. Beware, and henceforward avoid such sins.”

So saying, Kâlî departed from the person through whom she had manifested herself. Then the villagers perceived the grievous error into which they had fallen. They released the good pilgrim and implored his forgiveness, which he readily granted.

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