Vikram Betal Stories in English - The Ghost Who Wanted To Be Educated Story

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Dark was the night and weird the atmosphere. It rained from time to time. At the intervals of the roars of thunders and the moaning of jackals could be heard the eerie laughter of spirits. Flashes of lightning showed fearful faces.

But King Vikram swerved not. He climbed the ancient tree once again and brought the corpse down. However, as soon as he began crossing the desolate cremation ground with the corpse lying on his shoulder, the vampire that possessed the corpse said, "O King, you have enough money; you are also very powerful as a king. What is it then you seek? What for are you taking such pains at the unearthly hour of the night? I should think that your are after some secrets by which you can perform miracles. But are you sure that such powers will do you good? Let me narrate an incident to you so that my question will be clear. Pay attention to my narration. That might bring you some relief."

The vampire went on: In the prosperous village of Dharmagram lived a scholar named Bhushan Sharma. He taught a few boys of the village and earned some money from their parents. But it was a meager income. Life was very hard for him.

"Why don’t you go out to the town and try your luck?" his wife one day asked him. Sharma knew that far great scholars lived in the town; he had no chance of his shining amidst them. But he did nor wish to disappoint his wife. "That is a good idea," he said. He desired to spend a few hours in peace, away from his house.

He left home and walked in the direction of the town, but he did not go far. He sat down under an old banyan tree in a meadow. Hours passed. He had no zeal to stand up and go anywhere. At noon some travelers came to rest under the tree. They shared their food with Sharma. After a while they left.

Sharma continued to sit there, lamenting his fate. He was the most learned man in the village, but he was also the poorest man. What an irony! Of what value was his education? He mused on this question.

By and by evening set in. Then evening deepened into night. But it was a full-moon night, quite bright. "I must return home." thought Sharma, "I cannot spend the whole night here."

He was about to rise when he heard a thud. Before him popped up an aerial figure - that of a boy.

"Punditji, you are not afraid of a young ghost like me, are you?" asked the spirit.

"Oh no, why should I fear you?" said Sharmaji who, in fact, would have fainted right away if the spirit had not spoken to him in a very tender tone.

"I am a ghost, as you can see. I belong to a nearby village. I had seen you taking classes at Dharmagram. How much I wished that I could become a student of yours! I told my father about it. He was a very poor man. Even then he promised to arrange for my education. But he died in an accident all of a sudden. My mother died from shock. There was nobody to take care of me. I drowned myself in the river and died. Had I been educated, I would have known that to kill oneself was a sin. Because of my sin I am living as a ghost Punditji, will you please educate me?" the spirit asked eagerly.

By then fear had left Sharma. He said, "My boy, I wish I could fulfill your desire. But I am heading for town for my livelihood. I do not earn enough to make my both ends meet."

"Are you in need of money?" asked the spirit and he laughed and said, "When I was alive, I had no opportunity to hold even a coin in my hand. But as a spirit I can lay my hands on treasures of the king or of anybody else. If you promise to impart lessons to me, I’ll fetch money for you in no time."

Sharma’s face brightened up. "I promise," he said.

"How much money do you need?" asked the spirit.

"Say a thousand gold coins!"

"Wait, here," said the spirit. He disappeared. Sharma kept sitting with bated breath. An hour passed. There was a thud again. Sharma saw a bag lying before him. Next moment the spirit too could be seen. "Here is the money. When do you begin teaching me?"

Sharma was so excited that he promised to return to the spot the very next day. The spirit thanked him and disappeared. Sharma grabbed the bag and walked home briskly.

A thousand gold coins made him the richest man in the village overnight. He did not disclose the sudden change in his fortune to anybody, but began planning how to blind a new house and how much to invest in a business, so on and so forth. He did not go near the banyan tree the next day. In fact, he had given up the idea of going there ever. But a new idea came to his mind on the third day and he went there at night.

"Punditji, what happened? I’ve been waiting for you!"
said the spirit.

"My boy, I made a blunder by asking you for only a thousand gold coins. The fact is, I need some more money. This much does not help me much....."

"Sorry, Punditji, I left very sad after stealing that thousand gold coins from the king’s treasury. If I want to be good, should I steal? I should not! No, Punditji, tell me if I can help you in any other way," said the spirit.

"In that case, can you pass on some magical power to me?" asked Sharma.

"How will that help you?" asked the spirit, a bit surprised.

Sharma coughed and hesitated and managed to say, "Well, it will add to my confidence that I know something special...."

"Very well," said the spirit impatiently. "When I first came here, I met a witch’s ghost. She used to pass on her knowledge to me though I had no interest in it." The spirit brought out small chip of bone from the hollow of the tree and handed it over to Sharma. "Keep this in a fold of your clothes and walk on water. You will not sink. But when do you propose to begin taking my classes?" asked the spirit.

"Tomorrow, of course," said Sharma and he took leave of the spirit.

Seven days passed. Sharma was not to be seen. One evening the spirit went to Dharmagram, looking for him.

A strange sight met his eyes. On the bank of the lake outside the village had gathered all the respectable people of the village. Sharma walked on the water proudly. When he came out to the bank, the people prostrated themselves to him. "O holy man! O man of wonders, bless us!" they said. Sharma waved his hand of their hands as if he was blessing them.

Sharma went home. Invisible to all, the spirit followed him. Sharma had sat down when a landlord met him and bowed down to him. "What’s your problem?" asked Sharma.

"My enemy is harassing me very much. Please teach him a lesson. I told you about him yesterday. Here is something for you!" the landlord kept some money before Sharma.

"You can go. I will do the needful," said Sharma gravely.

The landlord departed. Some boys came in. "What do you want?" asked Sharma.

"Sir, it has been a fortnight now that we have missed our classes...." said the boys.

"I have no time for taking classes. Go away," said Sharma rudely. The boys went away.

Suddenly the spirit took its form before Sharma. Sharma gave a start. He tried to laugh and said, "I’m sorry, I could not meet you. But....."

"I heard that you have no time for taking classes," said the spirit.

"That does not apply to you. I can begin taking your classes right now," said Sharma falteringly.

"Look here, Punditji," said the spirit assuming a very serious tone. "You cannot teach me because you are not educated yourself. And I did not know that you will commit suicide like me."

"Well..." Sharma could not say a thing more.

"Pardon me," said the ghost.

"No, no, it is not for you to pardon me..." said Sharmaji.

The spirit paid no attention to Sharmaji’s words. "I’ll pray for you," said the spirit, "And pray yourself. Then he turned and walked away. Sharma sat thunderstruck."

The vampire paused for a moment. Then in a challenging tone, he demanded of King Vikram, "Why did the spirit give up his desire to learn when Sharma was prepared to begin teaching him then and there? How could the spirit describe Sharma as uneducated? Why did the spirit say that Sharma had committed suicide? And why did he ask to be pardoned? He had done no wrong to Sharma! It is Sharma who had wronged him. And why did the spirit say that he will pray for Sharma? O King, answer me if you can. Should you keep mum despite your knowledge of the answers, your head would roll off your neck."

Answered King Vikram forthwith: "By education the spirit meant that which makes a person good and noble. He was under the impression that if he learns lesson from Sharma, he will gain these qualities. But he found out that education had not made Sharma a noble man. Sharma could easily inspire him to steal. Sharma could betray him too. Sharma demonstrated his magic power to create the impressions that he was a holy man. He even accepted a bribe from the landlord giving him the idea that he was capable of harming the landlord’s enemy. In other words he acted as a liar. These are the traits of an ignorant man. What is worse, Sharma did such things though he was a Pundit. That was equal to committing suicide. The spirit realized that mere knowledge of arts and science does not change a man’s nature; it does not make him good or noble. That is why he gave up the desire to learn such lesson from Sharma. That is the also the reason why he called Sharma uneducated".

"He begged to be pardoned because he had unwittingly helped Sharma to become greedy and to commit sins. The only pious work of Sharma was to teach some village boys. Sharma had even given that up. The spirit proposed to pray for him so that good sense would return to him. Prayer is a great power. Nothing else could save him from his sins."

No sooner had King Vikram concluded his answer than the vampire, along with the corpse, gave him the slip.
 

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