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Superior in Loyalty

Then King Vikram again went to the tree, and again got hold of the Betaal, and took him on his shoulder and when the king had set out, the Betaal again started a story.

There was a city of the name of Kanakapura situated on the bank of the Ganga, in which the bounds of virtue were never transgressed, and which was inaccessible to the demon Kali.

In it there was a king named Yasodhana, who, like a rocky coast, protected the earth against the sea of calamity. When Destiny framed him, she seemed to blend together the moon and the sun, for although he delighted the world, the heat of his valour was scorching, and the circle of his territory never waned.

This king was unskilled in slandering his neighbour, but skilled in the meaning of the Sastras, he showed poverty in crime, not in treasure and military force. His subjects sang of him as one afraid only of sin, covetous only of glory, averse to the wives of others, all compact of valour, generosity and love.

In that capital there was a merchant, and he had an unmarried daughter, named Unmadini. Whoever there beheld her was at once driven mad by the wealth of her beauty, which was enough to be wilder even the God of Love himself.

When she attained womanhood, her politic father, the merchant, went to King Yasodhana, and said to him : “King, I have a daughter to give in marriage, who is the pearl of the three worlds I dare not give her away to anyone else, without informing youç Majesty. For to your Majesty belong all the jewels on the whole earth, so do me the favour of accepting or rejecting her.”

When the king heard this report from the merchant, he sent off, with due politeness, his own Brahmans, to see whether she had auspicious marks or not.

The Brahmans went and saw that matchless beauty of the three worlds, and were at once troubled and amazed ; but when they had recovered their self-control they reflected : “If the king gets hold of this maiden the kingdom will be ruined, for his mind will be thrown off its balance by her, and he will not regard his kingdom ; so we must not tell the king that she possesses auspicious marks.”

When they had deliberated to this effect, they went to the king, and told to him : “She has inauspicious marks.”
Accordingly the king declined to take that merchant’s daughter as his wife.

Then, by the king’s orders, the merchant, the father of the maiden Unmadini, gave her in marriage to the commander of the king’s forces, named Baladhara. She lived happily with her husband in his house, but she thought that she had been dishonoured by the king’s abandoning her on account of her supposed inauspicious marks.

As time went on, the spring came to that place. At that season King Yasodhana, mounted on an elephant, went out to see the high festival of spring in that city of his. And then a warning drum was beaten, to give notice to all matrons to retire, as it was apprehended that the sight of his beauty might prove their ruin.

When Unmadinj heard that drum, she showed herself to the king on the roof of her palace, to revenge the insult he had offered her by refusing her.

When the king saw her, looking like a flame shooting up from the fire of love, when fanned by spring and the winds from. The Malaya mountain, he was sorely troubled.

Gazing on her beauty, that pierced deep into his heart, like a Victorious dart of Kama, he immediately swooned.

His servants managed to bring him round, and when he had entered his palace he found out from them, by questioning them, that this was the very beauty who had been formerly offered to him, and whom he had rejected.

Then the king banished from his realm those who reported that she had inauspicious marks. The king, being slowly wasted by the smouldering fire of love, pined away day by day. But through shame he concealed the cause of his grief, and with difficulty was he induced to tell it to his confidential servants, who were led by external signs to question him.

Then they said : “Why fret yourself? Why do you not take her to yourself, as she is at your command ?“ But the righteous sovereign would not consent to follow their advice.

Then Baladhara, the commander-in-chief, heard the tidings, and, being truly devoted to him, he came and flung himself at the feet of his sovereign, and made the following petition to him : “King, you should look upon this female slave as your slave girl, not as the wife of another , and I bestow her freely upon you, so deign to accept my wife. Or I will abandon her in the temple here, there will be no sin in your taking her to yourself, as there might be if she were a matron.”

When the commander-in-chief persistently entreated the king to this effect, the king answered him, with inward wrath “How could I, being a king, do such an unrighteous deed? If I desert the path of right, who will remain loyal to his duty?

How can you, though devoted to me, urge me to commit a crime, which will bring momentary pleasure, but cause great misery in the next world? If you desert your lawful wife I shall not allow your crime to go unpunished, for who in my position could tolerate such an outrage on morality? So death is for me the best course.”

With these words the king vetoed the proposal of the commander-in-chief.

Accordingly, the king’s body was gradually consumed by the fire of the grievous fever of love, and only his name and fame remained. But the commander could not bear the thought that the king’s death had been brought about in this way, so he entered the fire ; for the actions of devoted followers are inexplicable.

The Betaal, sitting on the shoulder of King Vikram, again said to him: “So tell me, King, which of these two was superior in loyalty, the general or the king; and remember, the previous condition still holds.”

The king broke silence, and answered him : “Of these two the king was superior in loyalty.”

Betaal heard this, he said to him reproachfully: “Tell me, King, how can you make out that the general was not his superior? For, though he knew the charm of his wife’s society by long familiarity, he offered such a fascinating woman to the king out of love for him ; and when the king was dead he burnt himself ; but the king refused the offer of his wife without knowing anything about her.”

When the Betaal said this to the king, the latter laughed, and said : “Admitting the truth of this, what is there astonishing in the fact that the commander-in-chief, a man of good family, acted thus for his master’s sake, Out of regard for him ? For servants are bound to preserve their masters even by the sacrifice of their lives.

When the Betaal heard this speech of the king’s, he again rapidly quitted his shoulder by the might of his delusive power, and returned to his own place.

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