Vikram Betal Stories In English - The Whimsical Physician Story


May 1, 2019
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Dark was the night and weird the atmosphere. It rained from time to time. At intervals of the rumbling of thunder 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 shoulders, the Vampire that possessed the corpse observed, "O king you deserve praise for your patience and courage. My only doubt concerns your wisdom. Will you be wise enough to reap the harvest of your labours? There are people who fail to enjoy the outcome of their endeavours. Let me give you an instance. Pay attention to my narration. That should bring you some relief."

The Vampire went on. This was when king Chandradeep ruled over the kingdom of Kanchan at the foot of the Himalayas. The king had only one child, princess Madhumati. One day the young princess fell ill. Nobody considered it to be anything serious and as usual, the court physician gave her medicines. But instead of recovering, the princess seemed to be getting worse.

All the important physicians of the kingdom were summoned. They even could not be sure of the nature of Madhumati’s illness, what to speak of curing her!

After a month when the king saw that the condition of the princess continued to deteriorate, he announced that whoever can cure her can claim her hand in marriage.

And, of course, to marry the princess, the king’s only child, meant to succeed King Chandradeep to the throne!

Naturally, a number of ambitious men came to try their hands at curing the princess. That only made her condition worse.

Someone informed the king that in a small village at a far corner of the kingdom lived a young man named Jeevan Sharma. His father had left for him a large number of ancient manuscripts on Ayurveda, and the young Jeevan had made a thorough study of the books. He treated patients with great success. But, being shy, he never sought any publicity. In fact, he forbade his patients to sing his praise.

The king summoned Jeevan and told him about Madhmati’s condition and also promised her hand in marriage with him if he could cure her.

Jeevan examined he princess with great concentration. "My Lord," he old the king after a while, "I know the nature of this disease. This and a few other kinds of ailments can be cured by a rare herb available in a certain Himalayan valley. Because the herbs lose their efficacy when they dry up, we do not store them. If you allow me to go to the valley, I will collect the herb and be back here in a fortnight."

"Please do so," said the King.

Jeevan left for the valley. He was back in the capital on the fifteenth day.

As he approached the palace, he heard some anxious voices coming from the royal garden and saw that the chief gardener had been, bitten by a poisonous snake.

He sat down and felt the pulse of the old man. Others had taken him for dead, but Jeevan knew that he could still be revived - only if he was treated with the rare herb he had fetched.

Without wasting time he called for some water and crushed the herb and mixed with it and poured it into the gardener’s mouth. Within five minutes the man showed signs of recovery. In half an hour he was as good as normal!

The king was happy to know that Jeevan was back. He was also happy to learn about his success in reviving the gardener. But when he learnt that Jeevan had finished the herb meant for the princess, he grew furious.

"You are treacherous, you are inhuman, you are audacious, you have committed treason. You have insulted me by choosing to revive a useless old chap instead of the princess. You deserve death!" shouted the king.

"My Lord, I know the nature of the ailment of the princess. No harm will come to her if the treatment is delayed by another fortnight. I will start for the valley once again just now and be back as soon as I can," said Jeevan with supplication.

But the king paid no heed to his pleadings. He passed order for his death by hanging. Jeevan was thrown into the prison.

In the morning arrangements were made for his execution. Suddenly the gardener came rushing and fell at the king’s feet and said," My Lord, it is for me that the physician is going to lose his life. I’m the sinner. As you know, I’m poor, old and useless. But the physician’s life is of great worth. Kindly hang me and spare the physician’s life."

Jeevan could hear this. He shouted from the gallows, "Did I save your life yesterday for you to die today? No. Let the king heed my suggestion and let me fetch the herb once again. If this is not acceptable to the king let him proceed with his plan to hang me!"

The minister took this chance to speak to the king : "My Lord, we will gain nothing by hanging the physician. On the other hand, he may cure the princess, if he is set free!"

The king yielded. Jeevan was brought down from the gallows and set free.

He was back in a fortnight and he began treating the princess. In three days the princess opened her eyes.After a week she was able to walk. It was clear that her disease was gone! Jeevan prepared diet for her and prepared tonics for her to regain her health.

After a month the king called the court astrologer and asked him to find out an auspicious day for the princess to wed Jeevan. He also asked the minister bring Jeevan to the spot for consultation.

Since the time the princess showed signs of recovery, Jeevan was being given a royal treatment. He was lodged in the special guest house reserved for kingly guests. The queen herself took care to send him food from the royal kitchen. After all he was the future king!

The minister went to the guest house with a palanquin and musicians. But on arrival there he learnt that Jeevan had left the guest house early in the morning.

The king sent a messenger to Jeevan’s village. It was then learnt that Jeevan had migrated to another kingdom.

The Vampire paused and asked king Vikram in a challenging tone: "O king didn’t Jeevan act foolishly not once but three times? His first act of foolishness was to use the herb he had brought for the princess on the gardener. His second act of foolishness was to go away from the capital when he could have married the princess. His third act of foolishness was to leave the kingdom of Kanchan. Had he lived there he would have received much respect from all as the saviour of the princess! How do you explain his conduct? Answer me if you can. Should you keep mum despite your knowledge of the answer, your head would roll off your neck."

Forthwith answered king Vikram: "Jeevan was conscientious, free of greed and wise. For a true physician all patients merit the same attention irrespective of status. Jeevan knew that the princess can afford to wait, but not the gardener. So he used the herb for him. He had on desire to marry the princess first because he was shy by nature and so would not like to become a king and secondly because he wanted to devote his life to Ayurveda. He migrated to another kingdom because he got a taste of the character of his own king. King Chandradeep felt insulted because he delayed in curing his daughter. The king might have felt equally insulted when he would have declined to marry his daughter! Jeevan knew that he could establish himself in any kingdom by virtue of his knowledge."

No sooner had the king concluded his answer than the Vampire, along with the corpse, gave him the slip.