April 19, 2014 3 Comments
April 9, 2014 8 Comments
‘My Lord, there is one of our men – he is here to see you. He says he has something important to convey,’ the Vizier informed the Raja.
The man ushered in paid his respects to the Raja and the Vizier and said in a hushed voice:
‘Maharaja, Raja of Avanti is hosting in his palace Raja of Matsya. They are holding protracted discussions behind closed doors. They eat together; go out together for hunting, watching exhibition of martial arts…’
This was not good news. Both the kingdoms – Avanti and Matsya – have been giving pinpricks to the kingdom of Vatsa across its western borders. Through other sources too growing belligerency on their part was unmistakably observed in recent times. No open hostilities yet. Vatsa had large enough army of soldiers, horses and elephants to take on any aggression from Avanti or Matsya, but not both together.
‘It is reliably learnt as soon as rains let up and the waters of Tarangini – a wild tributary of River Narmada – abate, they plan to make their moves against Vatsa, their target of long standing.’
Tarangini separated Vatsa from Avanti and Matsya on the west. During monsoon, its waters were treacherous causing grief to anyone who ventured to cross over.
Raja of Vatsa stood silently taking time to digest this piece of intelligence.
The Vizier sent the man away instructing him to keep his eyes and ears open for any further development.
‘What do we do now?’ the Raja wordlessly quizzed his Vizier.
‘Maharaja, give me some time to think,’ the Vizier read his Raja’s mind.
The following morning:
‘Maharaja, could you please call the Peshkar (the Royal Treasurer)?’
Trusting his Vizier implicitly, the Raja summoned the Peshkar.
‘Sir, would be kind enough to fetch two really good diamonds?’ Vizier addressed the Peshkar.
‘You’ll not regret it, Maharaja,’ explained the Vizier.
The diamonds were brought nestled in soft silk.
The Royal Scribe was summoned next and a message was dictated. He knew enough to curb his curiosity and do as ordered with the intriguing message.
The Raja too couldn’tmake out where this was going.
The Scribe produced two identical messages.
The Vizier brought those messages for the Raja to fix his royal seal.
Two identical pouches were procured. In each was placed a diamond Peshkar had brought and a message copy prepared by the Scribe and signed by the Raja.
The pouches were secured against tamper and given to two messengers with instructions to reach them safely to the Raja’s of Avanti and Matsya as personal gifts from Raja of Vatsa . A month’s time was adequate for the gifts to be presented to the Raja’s right on the occasion of Navrathri.
‘But where is the Rock of Trichy? You mentioned it in the message,’ asked the Raja. ’In fact I was not even aware we had one with us.’
‘Of course in Trichy, Maharaja,’ the Vizier winked.
A clueless Raja walked away shaking his head and hoping for the best.
On the first day of Navrathri:
The Raja’s of Avanti and Matsya in their respective kingdoms were surprised to receive personal gifts from Raja of Vatsa.
They liked their diamonds – fine flawless specimens, they were.
But the message had said something more – where was the Rock of Trichy, claimed to be as large as a boulder?
Perhaps the Raja of Avanti has received it, thought Raja of Matsya, ‘I should check with him. Even by half it would still be impressive fixed to my crown.’
The Raja of Avanti felt slighted: ‘Of course Avanti is a bigger land of illustrious past. The Rock of Trichy in the whole should rightfully belong to me. But I’ll be generous enough to accept half. And we have the aasari’s (goldsmiths) to cleave the stone into two without any damage.’
But intriguingly the stone made no appearance either in whole or in half.
One of them was gypping the other.
For the message from the Raja of Vatsa addressed to both the Raja’s had clearly said:
‘…Also I’m sending to one of you the Rock of Trichy, sourced from the fabled mines of Lanka – it’s one of the largest sapphire stones ever mined anywhere in the world. More than anyone else it befits you to be in possession of such incomparable stone. Unfortunately I do not have the skills in my kingdom to break it up into two pieces. You may share it between both of you as you see fit…’
That was the beginning of the long running feud between Avanti and Matsya with the wedge of mutual suspicion firmly in place.
The reason the stone did not show up:
The Rock of Trichy never ever went into either of the pouches.
the stone did not come from Lanka as claimed.
The Rock of Trichy was mined entirely out of the Vizier’s mind.
And so peace reigned long in Vatsa.
PS: The kingdoms of Avanti, Matsya and Vatsa could be found on the maps of India dated around 600 BCE.
Credits: Based on anecdote on Gonella, a jester of Borda, Duke of Ferrara, from ‘The history of court fools’ by John Doran, via history.inrebus.com; image from Wiki
April 6, 2014 6 Comments
Yesterday – a day I suddenly lost a big piece of myself.
A day, I wish, had never dawned.
A class-mate at school and a friend, a bond that lasted for over 50 years.
They say: “Friendship is the kind that doesn’t depend on a common situation, place or hobbies. A friend is one who loves you for being you, will worry about your problems, will help whenever he can without you asking him to, and will always care about what you are going through.”
He was all this and more.
Was I to him? I wish I could be surer.
I curse myself for not reaching him in those weeks.
It feels so unreal.
One more puncture in the bubble-wrap of life.
Credits: ba-bamail.com for the quote.
April 3, 2014 3 Comments
If you can live without caffeine,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him or her,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion,
gender preference, or politics,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
—Congratulations! Then you have almost reached the same level of spiritual development as your dog!
Credits: enlightened-spirituality.org/ compiled by Timothy Conway, image from openclipart
March 29, 2014 2 Comments
Emperor Akbar was known to come up with whimsical questions that he would expect to be satisfactorily answered. This time he put this question to his court and asked Birbal to conduct the proceedings and find an answer:
‘Who is a man’s best friend?’
After a long silence and much encouragement from Birbal to speak up, a voice from the assembly set the ball rolling:
‘Well, I would say ‘Money’. If you’ve money, you’ll live comfortably.’
‘Is that money never leaves you or you never?’ Birbal posed.
‘Surely you have it to spend and if you spend, it goes.’
A young man ventured next: ‘It’s my horse. It’s always with me. I take care of her and she takes me everywhere.’
‘If you come across a river too deep for the horse and you need to get to the other side?’
‘Simple. I’ll get off my horse, secure it to a tree, dive into the waters and swim across.’
This time it was a man of action: ‘To me, my sword is my best friend.’
‘Well, what do you do with the sword in times of peace as it mostly prevails in our Emperor’s reign? Of course, you could cut fruits. And still no help in getting to eat them – a spoon does better.’
A round of muted laughter.
Then a man of god got up, puffed out his chest as he claimed: ‘My faith is my ever-abiding friend.’
Everyone was keenly looking at Birbal to see his response.
Birbal grabbed a walking stick from an old man as he slowly walked up to the man of god.
In a not-so-sudden flourish he swung the stick bringing it down on the man’s head.
There was enough time for the man to break the blow to his head with two hands. No harm done.
Birbal returned to his seat and with an exaggerated bow towards the man said: ’Thanks you, Sir. You alone got it right. Your friend truly stood by you in the face of danger. I apologize for the little bit of drama.’
The man of faith regained his composure once again puffing out his chest feeling vindicated.
Birbal summed up for the expectant court and a more-than-keen Emperor:
‘What stays with a man through all times, protects him from many a danger, helps him earn a living and eat his roti (bread), would you all agree that would be man’s best friend?’
The court saw no reason to disagree and chorused a loud ‘Yes’. Many already had their answer.
‘Of course it would be his hands!’
There was a flutter in the court ending in most nods than nays.
Needless to add the Emperor was mighty pleased with Birbal’s verdict.
Pls see here for an earlier Akbar-Birbal episode: http://ksriranga.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/an-akbar-birbal-episode-never-told-before/
Credit: indianchild.com for the image