King Vikrama Is Falsely Accused of Theft

King Vikrama Is Falsely Accused of Theft

Grumbling to herself thus, she strode over to the peg to
retrieve the necklace she had hung there, and when she did not find
it, she roughly woke the king and said to him, “Now I see! You are in
fact a mega-cheat, not a limp nincompoop. You stole my necklace and
then went to sleep; but you will not be able to digest my necklace.
Give it back to me, and then hit the road.”

The king replied, “Sister! I did not take your necklace. I was
sleeping here, and you are accusing me falsely.”

Hearing this the outraged girl stormed off to her father and
yelled at him, “Father! You have really found a fit husband for me. He
is a mega-cheat and a thief, pervaded with the talent for robbery.
During the night he stole my necklace and has hidden it somewhere.”
Hearing this the merchant rushed to the king and inveighed, “0
dunderhead! I gave you shelter in my house, fed you the choicest
foods, and suggested that you marry my daughter. And this is how
you pay me back? What have you done?”

King Vikrama replied, “I did not steal your necklace. It is
the power of my ill-fortune which has landed me in this soup.”

On hearing this the merchant lost his temper and said to his
servant, “Take this rogue, tie him up, and give him a good beating.
Maybe then he will admit to his crime, because it doesn’t look as if he
will admit to it without a whipping.”

The servant tied King Vikrama soundly with a rope and
gave him a good bashing, during which the merchant kept shouting,
“Thrash him soundly, for only then will he admit to the theft and
produce the necklace. Compassion is inappropriate here.”

The merchant’s servants battered the king so thoroughly that
King Vikrama, acutely distressed by this tightening of Saturn’s noose
around his neck, cried out, “0 merchant! I don’t know anything at all
about this necklace. You are beating me fruitlessly! You have checked
my body and inspected my clothes, but nothing has been found.
Have a little compassion for me! I did not take your necklace, I don’t
have your necklace, I don’t know anything about your necklace. You
are bearing me in vain.”

The merchant then said to his servants, “This is some
seasoned thief we have here, for in spite of all this pounding he still
refuses to talk. Now take him to the king! When the king’s justice has
taught him a good lesson he will produce the necklace.”

The merchants servants accordingly bound both of King
Vikramas hands, and led him into the presence of King Chandrasena,
where they told their king the story of the necklace in full detail.
Then King Chandrasena said to King Vikramaditya, “0 you
scoundrel! Bring out this necklace straightaway and return it to the

King Vikramaditya said, “I did not steal the necklace, and I
do not know anything about the necklace. You have a wrong idea
about this necklace, about which I know absolutely nothing. All this
trouble is occuring because the planet Saturn is angry with me. I do
not steal, but if you still doubt me, all right, then, have it your way: I
am a thief; please show compassion to me.”

On hearing this King Chandrasena rose like a fire blazing up
and said, “You impostor! You still will not admit to your crime? You
stole from this merchant and are pretending not to have done so?
Guards! Cut off this knave’s hands and feet and throw him out of town
and see that he gets no food or water from today onwards.”

Saturn had turned King Chandrasena’s mind topsy-turvy,
making him believe that King Vikramaditya was a thief, and preventing
him from taking the least cognizance of King Vikrama’s pleas.

King Chandrasena’s servants, following their masters orders,
then took King Vikrama out of town to the executioner, who
chopped off his hands and feet. At the moment they were hewn away
a sudden wave of woe rolled through the city. Mutilated, King
Vikrama writhed in agony, screaming from the pain of his wounds,
dying slowly, but the heartless servants of King Chandrasena did
nothing to relieve his pain. After taking King Vikrama to a desolate
wood and dumping him there, they returned to their king, who asked
them, “0 my minions! What is the condition of that burglar? Is he
dead yet, or still living?”

The lackeys brayed, “He should be dead very soon. How will
he live without feet or hands? He is dying a miserable death in extreme
pain, bleeding heavily, and we have stopped everyone from giving him
food or drink. He can’t last long now. The paroxysms he feels in the
stumps of his hands and feet are causing him to suffer like a fish out of
water.” The people of the city of Tamalinda had compassion for King
Vikrama, but since King Chandrasena had strictly forbidden anyone to
give him food or water, everyone was exceedingly afraid to provide him
any assistance, lest they too end up in his pitiable state.

But King Vikrama survived; if he had died, how would Saturn
have been able to continue to harass him? After a month passed, the
planet Saturn at last felt some compassion for King Vikrama. Saturn
then created compassion in the heart of King Chandrasena, who
suddenly one day asked his servants, “What condition is that thief in?”

The flunkeys replied, “Great King! He is still alive, but he is in
terrible shape. Without any food or drink he is hovering on the point of

The king ordered his men, “For today onwards have mercy
on him, and give him food and drink!”

Following the king’s orders, his servants began to provide
Vikramaditya with nourishment. The townspeople began to care for
him, and served him with food and drink. In only a short time the
pain from his hands and feet subsided, and his strength returned. But
he was crippled, and to move about without hands and feet caused
him great difficulty and great agony.

In this way, two arduous years passed for the wretched King
Vikrama, until one day a woman who had been born in Ujjayini and
who had returned there to visit her family passed by in a palanquin.
She was the daughter-in-law of an oil merchant, returning to her
father-in-law’s house in Tamalinda. As she neared the city she spied
King Vikrama sitting underneath a tree, and saw that his hands and
feet had been severed.

Dumfounded by this sight she stopped the palanquin and
rushed over to King Vikrama, saying, “Great King! What has brought
you to this pass? How long have you been here?”

King Vikramaditya told her, “0 chasce wife! All of this
comes as a result of my previous karmas. It is because my stars have
turned in their courses that I have been ravaged. Lord Saturn became
angry with me, and put me into this miserable predicament. There is
no escape from enduring the consequences of one’s karmas. 0 sister!
Is all well in my Ujjayini?”

Tears came to the woman’s eyes as she answered, “Great King!
There is great happiness in the city of Ujjayini, but seeing you in this
state my heart is greatly stricken. As you say, there is no escape from
enjoying the fruits of one’s previous karmas; what was to happen has
happened. Now get up and sit in my palanquin, and come with me to
my house.” With great difficulty King Vikrama was able to seat himself
in the palanquin, and the woman then transported him to the oil
pressers home.

Fear gripped the oil merchant as he watched the crippled
ruler emerge from the palanquin, and he said to his daughter-in-law,
“Daughter-in-law! Why have you brought this trouble into our home?
Our king had this thief’s hands and feet chopped off and expelled
him from our city, strictly ordering no one to assist him. If you give
him refuge in our home our king will loot our household and will
imprison us.”

Afrer listening patiently the girl replied soothingly, “0 my
father-in-law! Don’t fear. This is King Vikramaditya of Ujjayini, who
because of his own ill fortune has fallen into this condition of extreme
adversity. He ruled Ujjayini with great righteousness and
statesmanship, but because of the adverse position of the planets he
has been ruined. He is a wish-fulfilling jewel fallen onto a rubbish
heap, and today he has fallen into our hands.”

Hearing this, the oilman was astonished and he offered King
Vikramaditya every token of respect. He kept the king in his home
and pondered over how to tactfully explain this situation to King

The next day the oil trader went to the court of King
Chandrasena and appealed to him oleaginously: “Great King! Remember
that thief who, after having his hands and feet chopped off, you had
thrown out of town? Well, I feel sorry for him, so if you give the word I
will keep him in my house and feed him.” Chandrasena carefully
considered the oilman’s entreaty before giving his assent as requested.

Now fearless, the oil presser returned home, where
Vikramaditya told him, “Don’t let anyone know that I am Vikramaditya,
and don’t speak about this matter to anyone.” The oilman agreed to
this,and said to King Vikrama, “From now on, you should sit always atop
my oil press and press out the oil, and I will keep you supplied with food
and clothing.”

Vikramaditya, who had been the ruler of Ujjayini until he fell
under Saturn’s sway and was brought low, agreed to this proposal and
began to sit atop the man’s oil mill all day long, pressing out the oil. See
the play of destiny! Day and night the disfigured King Vikrama sat atop
the oil mill, driving the oxen on as they turned the mill’s axle, feeling
tremendously indebted to the oil trader for the food, clothing, and
shelter that was provided to him. In this way five more years passed.

Those who want to know what happened next should now
listen with one-pointed attention: As time went by, it became King
Vikrama’s wont to daily sing, to pass the time as he herded the oxen
in their circular route around the mill. King Vikrama, who was a
talented musician, knew all the classical ragas (musical modes), and
one day, as he sat atop the mill, he began to sing the Raga Dipaka in a
beautiful voice. He sang his heart out until, all of a sudden, the
potency of the melody combined with the force of his singing to
cause all the lamps in the city to spontaneously ignite.

It so happened that Princess Padmasena, King Chandrasena’s
daughter, was standing on the palace’s balcony at the very moment of
that ignition, and she marvelled when she saw lamps flare abruptly
into life in every house in town, as if it were Dipavali (the Festival of
Lights). She asked her servants, “Who has caused all these lamps to be
lit in our city today? Today is not Dipavali, and there is no grand
marriage or other festival. Go and investigate! Find out who has
caused these lamps to blaze.” Just then Vikramaditya completed his
rendering of Raga Dipaka, and each and every one of the lamps just
as unexpectedly went out.

Then he began the vocal elaboration of the Raga Shri.
Hearing this the princess said, “Who is this musical maestro
performing anonymously among us? Are any of my servants here? Go
find out where that singer is, and hurry!” Obedient to her command,
the princess’s maidservants scoured the city until they came to the oil
dealer’s house, where they saw, sitting on the oil press, the crippled
Vikramaditya with his defective arms and legs, singing masterfully.
Seeing him they scurried back to the palace and told the princess,
“Do you know that robber whose hands and feet were chopped off
and who was thrown out of town by your father more than seven
years ago? Well, that invalid is sitting in the oil miller’s house, pressing
out the oil and singing that song.”

The princess then told her maidservants, “Go quickly and
summon him here.”

One brave serving girl had the temerity to object: “If we
bring him here now, the king will be furious with us. Let us first
insert this suggestion into the king’s ear, so that he will not take
offense when the cripple arrives here.”

The princess retorted: “There is no use whatsoever in
inserting anything into my fathers ear. I will inform him later. Now go
and invite this artist to the palace, for my mind has become attached
to him.” The servant girls ran to the oilpresser’s house and, after taking
the oilman’s permission, invited Vikramaditya to visit the princess. He
tried to decline the invitation, suspicious that Saturn might not have
finished with him yet, but when the girls insisted, he allowed them to
escort him to the palace of King Chandrasena.

There he met the princess, who seated him in a seat of honor
and said, “You who are a connoisseur of ragas, please sing one of them
now, and satiate my ears. Your throat is intensely sweet, and your
knowledge of music is total. You must be, in fact, some celestial

Thereafter King Vikramaditya, in the crippled form created
when his feet and hands were severed, spent his days in the princess’s
palace at her command, pleasing her mightily by singing for her, in a
sweet voice, many different ragas and raginis (female ragas), each
appropriate for the time of day or night that he sang them. During
the course of these concerts the period of his Seven-and-a-Half came
to an end.

Meanwhile, the princess had determined to wed King
Vikrama only, if she was to wed, and embarked on a hunger fast for
this purpose. Her handmaidens tattled on her to the queen, who
sashayed into her daughter’s apartments to enquire the cause of her
misery. The princess told her mother, “Ma, I am determined to marry
the man who has recently begun singing in my palace. I have chosen
him, and I shall marry no other.”

Immensely offended by these foolish words, her mother
replied, “Daughter, have you gone insane? Your destiny is to marry
some eminent prince. Your station in life is as far from that of
limbless wretch as the sky is distant from the earth. Stop all this
foolish prattle and be a sensible girl.” But her daughter replied, “I
shall not break my vow. This man alone shall be my husband.”

At this the queen began to worry that perhaps the princess’s
obsession would not be so easy to lift, and so she proceeded directly
to consult with her husband the king, who at that very moment was
asking his courtiers, “Why is the princess’s palace filled with beautiful
ragas and raginis all day and all night long nowadays? Who is
serenading her, and why is the princess listening?”

The courtiers, fearful of their necks should they spill the
beans, all folded their hands in front of them and said politely, “Great
King! We know nothing about this. When you visit the palace of
Princess Padmasena please do verify this yourself. We can say
absolutely nothing on the subject of the princess. Please see it with
your own eyes, and then do that which you feel is appropriate.”

At this moment his wife stormed into the room and told
King Chandrasena all that had passed between her and their daughter.

The king rose at once to his feet and marched directly to his
daughter’s palace, where he announced to her, “Daughter! What you
have spoken of doing does not reflect favorably on a princess’s dignity.
This man is a thief, and was punished with dismemberment at my
command. Forget this youthful infatuation, and I shall even today
send my messengers to far-off lands to find you an appropriate,
capable, handsome prince to be your groom.”

The princess eyed her father coolly and replied, “Father, if
you speak to me any more on this matter I shall surely relinquish my
life, but I shall not take another husband.” The king examined her
closely, and saw that her mind was made up. Filled with anger, he said
to her, “If such a fate is written in your destiny, what can I do about
it? Who can change the lines of one’s fate?”

Realizing that he had no alternative, he agreed to the match
and with a heavy heart returned slowly to his palace, where he lay on
his bed in misery. After tossing and turning for what seemed an
eternity, he fell into a deep sleep. In a dream he saw King ‘Vikrama
whole again.

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