The Raja And The Swamiji (A Children’s Story)
October 26, 2015 7 Comments
This is a story from the hoary past about a Raja from the north.
His valour was legendary as a soldier keeping his kingdom safe from neighboring invaders. A benign ruler, he was liked by his subjects.
One fine day things changed suddenly. The Raja began sighting ill omens: the lamp in the palace shrine fell off its pedestal and broke; the hoot of an owl was heard in the morning; his favorite age-old mango tree in the courtyard withered away for no reason…That wasn’t all. He had recurring nightmarish dreams in the night – ghouls chasing nim, raging fires engulfing the palace…All these induced a nameless discomfort in the Raja.
The Raj-Guru (the preceptor to the royalty) made polite inquiries with the distraught Raja. He could not dismiss the Raja’s state of mind lightly and promised to find a way out at the earliest.
A couple of days later, he returned with: ‘My lord, I learnt there is a recluse swamiji living in his ashram deep inside the forest in the east. He is most likely to be of help. Perhaps we should seek his counsel, though he does not grant audience to anyone at all for more than a few minutes.’
So it was decided the Raja would go to meet the swamiji accompanied by his mukhya-mantri (prime-minister). Wanting to keep his visit under the cover, he sternly declined to take with him his personal guards or anyone else on this mission but for a guide to get them through the dense bandits-infested forest to the ashram. .
On the following day, before the crack of dawn, the Raja and his mantri slipped out of the palace under the cover of darkness. After a long ride, they reached the outskirts of the forest where the guide joined them as arranged by the Raj-Guru.
The guide had known about the swamiji and the ashram. With practiced ease he led the way for his wards – they knew within minutes they would be badly lost in the dense outgrowth without him.
On their way, at many places, the bandits hid themselves cleverly all ready to ambush the Raja. Amazingly on a mere suggestion of a imperceptible rustle in the bushes, the Raja would in a blink of an eye deftly launch a few arrows with a ferocity that would send the lurking bandits run for their lives. The bandits never stood a chance to catch the Raja by surprise. The mantri and the guide were speechless watching at first hand the Raja’s display of alacrity and skill in weilding his weapons.
Before long they sighted the ashram ahead of them. At a distance, they got off their mounts and left them in the care of the guide. The Raja made his way to the ashram with long strides at a brisk pace on the final short stretch of a stone-cobbled path.
At the last step, he failed to spot in time a protruding stone that tripped him to a nasty fall. The Raja saw a pair of hands shoot out like bolts of lightning firmly holding him back. As he looked up thankfully, he saw the swamiji – did he imagine the halo around his head? – clad in flowing ochre robes.
The swamiji took him and the mantri inside his ashram and pointed to some fruits and juices lying about should they wish to refresh themselves after their arduous passage.
The duties of the host done, the swamiji looked at them quizzically showing impatience at this unwanted intrusion.
Following a colorful description by the mantri of their encounter with the bandits on the way, curtly curtailed by the Raja, the latter quickly proceeded to appraise the swamiji of the ill omens and the nightmares he suffered. What to make of them? If all these portend some danger, from which quarters would it materialize?
A few moments of reflection and the swamiji smiled: ‘So, you were very good at sighting the bandits hiding behind the bushes, yet the stone right under your nose escaped your notice. Odd, isn’t it?’
His countenance turned grave as he continued: ‘Son, your pithru’s (ancestors) are obviously pleased with you. Hence the signals. Don’t ignore it.’
The swamiji got up from his seat and walked to the door: ‘I’ve addressed the purpose of your visit, I think. You must return now…please.’
On their ride back, the Raja mulled on the few words swamiji’s spoke. Quite intriguing, he thought. Then, may be not so.
While, for all their labour, the mantri could not see much in swamiji’s sage advice beyond sounding a caution in general.
On his return, the Raja ordered in private a careful investigation to uncover any conspiracy against him and the kingdom of all those personages standing close to him . Especially the mukya-mantri.
Source: Image of Maharaja Malhar Rao Holkar from commons.wikimedia.org