Vikram Betal Stories in English - Wordly Wisdom Story


May 1, 2019
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Dark was the night and weird the atmosphere. It rained from time to time; gusts of wind shook the trees. Between thunderclaps and the moaning of jackals could be heard the eerie laughter of spirits. Flashes of lightning revealed fearsome faces.

But King Vikramaditya did not swerve a bit. He climbed the ancient tree once again and brought down the corpse. However, as soon as he began crossing the desolate cremation ground, with the corpse lying on his shoulder, the vampire that possessed the corpse spoke: " O King! You seem to be making untiring efforts and without respite as if you wish to achieve something. I pity you. Instead of enjoying comfortable sleep on a cozy bed, you’re still coming after me. And I don’t know why! Don’t be under the impression that you’re clever in whatever you do. That’s the general characteristic of artists, sculptors, and other people like them. They all think too much of themselves. An example is Kaladas, the famous sculptor. He threw away a chance to become great. Let me tell you his story." The vampire then narrated the story.

Keertisen of Krishnagiri was a lover of art and literature. He would often listen to poets and in appreciation of their creative work, he used to reward them with titles and gifts. Competitions among poets were a frequent happening in his durbar (court). Sometimes he would also try his own hand at composing poetry. But, then, poetry was only one of his many loves. He had a fancy for painting and he adorned the palace with painting at all conceivable places. So were sculptures, which found a place in every nook and corner of the magnificent palace.

One day, Keertisen wished to erect a beautiful hall in the royal garden. He began contemplating where it should be located and who should be engaged to construct it. He had heard of a sculptor called Kaladas. Though he lived in a village, people used to go to him from all parts of the country to admire his art and creations. Some of them were even prepared to buy the pieces, but as he was not greedy at all, he would never sell them for a price. He gave them away, without taking any money, if he found his admirers genuinely interested in his work.

What drew King Keertisen to Kaladas was the artist’s humility. He now wished to make him the royal sculptor and sent word through his messenger who were asked to bring Kaladas to the durbar.

But Kaladas would not accept the King’s offer. "I don’t wish to have a title or any special status," he told the king’s messengers. " I prefer to remain an ordinary artist in this village. Please request your king to excuse me."

When the messengers went back to the king, Keertisen decided that he would himself go and make a personal request to Kaladas. " You’re a very talented sculptor," the king told Kaladas. " Why should you hide your talents from the people? Art is nothing personal; it is meant for the people, and they should appreciate it, and admire it. An artist must move among the people and get recognised by and among them. The world should be aware of people like you. It is in recognition of your talents that I wish to make you my court sculptor. I hope you’ll not reject it."

" Royally is invariably like this," remarked Kaladas, giving enough indication to Keertisen that he was once again rejecting the royal offer. " The king’s take advantage of the power they wield and become arrogant, thinking that everybody would surrender to them. Somehow, I’ve grown an aversion toward royalty. Please bear with me, O King!"

"Don’t equate me with other king’s, Kaladas," pleaded Keertisen. "I’ve a great regard for artists. I place people like you even above royalty; and give them due respect. Please go with me and help me build the sculptor hall that I have in mind."

Kaladas also had a great regard for Keertisen. He thought for a while and said, "All right, as you wish, O king!" He got ready to accompany Keertisen to his palace, where the king chose a good place for Kaladas to stay and gave him all facilities to do his work on the hall.

One day, Princess Keertijyoti went up to the garden to see how far the work on the hall had progressed. She happened to see some of the sculptures made by Kaladas. She was carried away by their beauty and excellence. Her attention soon fell on the sculptor and not only found him handsome but wondered if he was not someone form the heavens up above.

There was an aura about him. Then and there she decided that if ever she were to marry, she would marry only this youth, and none else. Thereafter, the princess made it a point to visit the place every day, and tried to get closer and closer to Kaladas. She discussed with him various aspect of art, particularly about architecture and sculpture. However, she avoided disclosing her desire to him.

At last, the hall was ready. It was on the whole an exquisite creation. The king invited all the important person in the kingdom and himself took them round the palace pointing to them the sculptures done by Kaladas. They were unanimous in their praise of the artist and of his creations. Keertisen announced that the hall would be declared open after ten days, with a dance by the court dancer, Mayavati. He invited the rulers of all the neighbouring kingdoms for the inauguration.

Meanwhile Princess Keertijyoti waited for an opportunity to reveal her wish to Kaladas and one day she got that opportunity. He was shocked beyond belief. "Have you forgotten who you are?" he said, rather angrily. "You’re a princess and I’m only an ordinary sculptor. How then can we marry each other?"

The princess protested. "I don’t differentiate between people in high position and of low situations. Everybody is equal in my eyes. I see you as a great sculptor, and I’m not looking for anything else or anything more."

Kaladas thought for a while and then said, "All right, but do you think your father will agree to our marriage? You may ascertain his views within a week, and then we shall take a final decision."

Keertijyoti accepted his suggestion. However, before one week went by, on the fourth day, Kaladas left Krishnagiri without telling anybody.

The vampire concluded the story there and turned to king Vikramaditya. "O King! Kaladas lacked worldly wisdom. Don’t you think that’s why he suddenly disappeared from the scene? He knew that it was a princess who was seeking his hand, and he had asked her to get her father’s permission within a week. He was also aware how much the king respected him and admired his work. He would have readily agreed to his marrying the princess. Though he was sure of this, he did not wait till he heard the king’s views at the end of the week he had given the princess, and stealthily left the place. That shows he had no knowledge of the world and the people’s minds. If you know the answer to my question and et decide not to answer me, mind you, your head will be blown to pieces!"

King Vikramaditya thought for a while before he answered the vampire. "It was not as though Kaladas lacked worldly knowledge. In fact, he had a lot of worldly wisdom. Though he had given a full week’s time to the princess to ascertain her father’s views, he knew that she would not really need more than a day for that. And if he had agreed to her wish, she would have hurried to inform him of that. However, he waited for not one day, or two day’s, but for full four days. He then guessed that King Keertisen had not agreed to their marriage. He was willing to marry her only with the approval of everybody. That does not mean that he was thinking too much of himself."

The vampire realised that the king had once again outsmarted him. He flew back to the ancient tree, taking the corpse along with him. And Vikramaditya drew his sword and went after the vampire.