The Curse

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King Vikramaditya reached the peepal tree. There he found the corpse hanging upside down, as usual. He pulled it down on his shoulder and walked towards his capital town. On the way, Betal who was putting up in the corpse, said to King Vikramaditya, “Vikram, you seem to be extremely tired of my escapades. So here, I narrate to you another tale for the peace of your mind”. Betal, then, told the story as follows:

“Once upon a time, a king by the name of Virbhadra ruled the kingdom of Punyapur. He was a powerful, as well as, generous and charitable King. His subjects were happy with him. The King had a faithful minister by the name of Satyamani. One day, Satyamani told the King, “Your Majesty, I want to go on a pilgrimage. I have come to seek your permission and blessings.”
King Virbhadra readily agreed to allow Satyamani to proceed on leave  in order to perform the holy task.

Satyamani taking King’s leave went on the pilgrimage.

One day, during his journey Satyamani reached the seashore. He  watched the vast sea and the tides rising in it. He loved the sight so much that he decided to spend his night on the shore itself. But at mid-night he saw a strange sight. It was a glowing tree which was emerging out of the sea. Its leaves were made of gold. The fruits and flowers of the tree were made of diamond, sapphire and pearls. But the most strange scene was that of a young maiden sitting on a branch of the tree and playing a lyre. After some time, that glittering jewel tree submerged under the water.

The next day, Satyamani again reached the seashore and waited for the tree to rise up again. When the tree surfaced, he swam up to it and asked the maiden sitting in it and playing lyre, “Who are you? And what are you doing here?” But the maiden did not reply and instead dived into the sea.

Satyamani was so excited that he returned to the kingdom without completing his pilgrimage and rushed to the King’s court to tell him about his unique experience.

When the King heard about the jewel tree he too became eager to have a look at it. So, even though it was night time, the King escorted by his minister Satyamani reached the seashore.
When the King, at the seashore, saw the jewel tree surfacing in the water, he asked Satyamani to wait and immediately jumped into the sea himself and swam up to it. The beautiful maiden was sitting in the tree, as usual, and playing a lyre.

The King asked the damsel, “Who are you? And what are you doing here in the sea?”

The maiden replied, “O, King, you seem to be very eager to marry me. If it is so, you will have to wait till the moonless night because I will marry you only then.”

The King, who had fallen madly in love, readily agreed.

It was a dark moonless night. All of a sudden a black demon appeared and embraced the beautiful maiden. But as he bent down to kiss her he was challenged by the King. The demon, seeing the King, became furious and attacked him. A fierce fighting took place, at last, the King cut off the demon’s head.

Then King Virbhadra asked the maiden, “The demon has been killed. Now tell me the secret of this jewel tree.”

The maiden said, “O, King! I am the daughter of Gandharva Vidyasagar. My father loved me so much that he would take only that food which was cooked and served by me to him. Once, while playing with my friends, I forgot to serve food to my father and he had to go hungry. Annoyed over my carelessness he cursed me.

The effect of the curse was that at every moonless night I slipped under the evil influence of this demon. He harassed me and wanted to marry me. When my father's anger subsided a little, he offered me a boon, according to which a king would, some day, arrive here to rescue me from the clutches of the demon and marry me. So, you are here as my life partner, I presume.”

King Virbhadra returned to his kingdom along with the maiden. He married her with great pomp and show.

When Satyamani saw the King marrying the maiden of the sea, he felt highly dejected and committed suicide.’’

“Now Vikram!” said Betal ending his story here, “Tell me why Satyamani committed suicide? If you do not answer my question honestly, I will break your head into pieces.”

King Vikramaditya had no alternative, but to speak. He said, “Betal, minister Satyamani died due to his own folly. If he had his own plans to marry her, he should not have spoken to the King. He should have known that the King was a bachelor and would definitely fall in love with the beautiful maiden.”

“You are absolutely right, Vikram”, said Betal. “But as you have not been able to maintain silence, I have no alternative, but to leave your company and return to my abode in the peepal tree. Saying so, Betal deserted King Vikramaditya and flew towards his abode leaving the King in his hot chase once again.

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