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In Search of A Dream
|by Ramendra Kumar|
King Debendra was a very sad man. God had given him everything, health, wealth, name and fame. But he had denied him one thing which he craved most – a child.
One day his prayers were answered. A swami came to his court and pleased with the King’s seva gave him three mangoes.
“Give one to each of your queens. Soon you will be blessed with three heirs,” the Swami said and went on his way.
The king handed over the mangoes to the three queens. While the elder queens ate the mangoes immediately the younger one kept it in the garden and went to take a bath. When she came back she found a pig running away with the mango in its mouth. She rushed after the pig shouting at the top of her voice. The pig dropped the mango and ran out of the garden. The queen picked up the mango and to her horror found that the pig had eaten half of it. She quickly washed it thoroughly and ate the remaining half.
Nine months went by and one day all three queens gave birth to baby boys. While the sons of the two elder queens were healthy and good looking the son of the youngest queen had a face like a pig.
The queen naturally was shocked but the king was enraged. “Throw the mother and child out of the palace. They have brought dishonor to me.”
The poor queen and her son had to leave the palace in disgrace. They settled down in a hut just outside the palace.
The two sons were named Binod and Bipin while the third one was called Varaha meaning pig.
One night King Debendra had a dream – a very strange dream. He saw a lake and inside it a small but extremely beautiful palace. Inside the palace was brightly lit room. In the centre of the room was a huge bed on which was placed the most exquisite flower he had ever seen. It had seven pink petals and enclosed within was a snow white pearl which was shining bright. As he watched fascinated suddenly a huge shadow loomed. The pearl stopped glowing, the petals of the flower closed and the room was in darkness.
Just then the King woke up. The next two nights the King had the same dream. He now couldn’t bear the suspense any longer. He wanted to know the meaning of the dream at any cost and possess the exquisite pearl.
He had a proclamation made in the kingdom declaring that anyone who could decipher the dream and get him the pearl would be richly rewarded. But no one succeeded.
Finally Binod and Bipin decided to try their hand. Their father was delighted and had a huge boat made of silver built for them. In it were loaded all the provisions which the young men would need on their journey.
They set sail in a grand way with half the kingdom coming to the river shore to wish them the best of luck.
Varaha too decided to go in search of the dream. But the poor fellow had to build his own boat. Placing his meager belongings in his little boat he too set sail with blessings of his mother.
In the meanwhile Bipin and Binod travelled for two days and decided to take rest on an island. Later as they were exploring the island they came across a sage meditating in front of a cave. He was very old, thin and frail looking. As Bipin and Binay stood uncertainly the sage opened his eyes and looked at them.
“At last two able bodied young men who can help me. Now please carry me to the shores of the river, give me a bath and bring me back here. You can then hunt for fresh fruits in the jungle for my meal.”
Binay and Bipin looked at each other, their lips curling into contemptuous smiles.
“Old man do you know who we are?” demanded Bipin.
“We are the sons of the King of Mayurbhanj – Chakrabarti Maharaj Deba Debendra,” said Bipin his chest puffing with pride.
“How can you even imagine us carrying you on our backs, bathing you and then picking fruits?” thundered Binay.
The sage merely looked at them and raised his left palm. The two sons of King Debendra stared at the palm. Right in the middle was an eye – which was blood red. As they looked the eye opened and a ray shot out and struck them.
Next moment they found they were in their huge boat.
“Let us get out fast. This place is dangerous,” panted Bipin.
“You are right, that old man is some kind of rakshasa in disguise,” added Binay.
However, try as they might the boat just wouldn’t move. It seemed stuck.
“What do we do now? We are stranded,” wailed Bipin.
“Sooner or later father is sure to send someone to look for us till then let us hide in the boat,” said Binay and Bipin nodded.
Varaha reached the same spot in his little boat the next day. Seeing the silver boat he called out to his brothers. When there was no response he went deep into the island and saw the sage in meditation.
After what seemed like hours the sage opened his eyes and looking at Varaha repeated the request he had made to Bipin and Binay.
“Sure swamiji, I shall be glad to,” Varaha replied .
Later after Varaha had bathed and fed him, the sage said,”Son, I am really pleased with your service. Now tell me why are you here?”
Varaha told him the purpose of his visit.
“Son, I can help you in your quest. The dream you are trying to unravel is right behind this cave. Here take this stick and go ahead.”
“Is there something unique about this stick, swamiji?”
“Yes, of course. It is a magic stick called Zahari. It has a very special quality.”
“What is that?” Varaha asked looking at the stick which seemed ordinary enough.
“Whatever your feelings are it doubles them. For instance if you are scared it will make you doubly scared. On the other hand if you are brave enough to fight one giant on your own it will give you the courage to fight two giants and so on.”
All of sudden the waters of the lake vanished to reveal a beautiful palace. Varaha walked up to the palace and tapped on the door. It opened to reveal a huge hall and in the centre a circular room. As Varaha reached the room the door swung open on its own. Inside the room was an ornate bed studded with rubies and gems. In the centre was a flower with seven petals. Within the petals was an exquisite pearl whose glow was lighting up the room.
Varaha tapped Zahari on the bed. The next moment the petals had turned into seven pretty fairies and the pearl into the most beautiful young woman Varaha had ever seen.
“Who...who are you,” the young woman asked backing away.
“Please don’t be scared. Though I am ugly and vicious looking, I won’t harm you,” Varaha said speaking in his calm and gentle voice.
Varaha then quickly told her about himself and the purpose of his visit. “Now tell me what’s an enchanting young lady like you doing here?”
“I am Charu. My father was the king of the netherworld. One day a monster came and destroyed everything. My parents, the army, the citizens of this beautiful kingdom were all killed. Only I was spared.”
“The monster wanted to marry me. He has been waiting for me to turn eighteen after which he will marry me.”
“And when will that be?”
“What about these fairies?”
“They are my seven sisters who were also killed. They went to heaven but were sent by my father to keep me company.”
“But then how do you turn into a pearl and your sisters into flowers?”
“The monster does that before he leaves to protect us from prying eyes.”
Varaha thought for some time and said, “This magic stick must have restored your original shape.”
Just then a shadow loomed over head. Varaha tapped the bed with Zahari. The princess turned into a pearl and the fairies into petals.
Varaha looked up and found a huge and hideous creature staring down at him. It had the head of a monstrous fish and eight limbs which moved about like those of an octopus. On its head were two giant eyes which looked unblinkingly in different directions. It had eight mouths each with sharp teeth that stuck out like daggers. Its body the size of a whale was covered in scales. The creature swooped down on Varaha who raised Zahari. It turned into a sword and Varaha attacked his enemy with gusto. Where ever the sword touched the body of the monster blood gushed out. The creature lashed out with its limbs and caught Varaha on his side. He went flying and crashed into a wall. But he didn’t give up. Holding the sword he rushed and stabbed his adversary again and again. This time the wounds were deeper and the monster shrank back and collapsed. Clearly Varaha’s courage had been doubled by Zahari giving him a distinct advantage over the monster.
As soon as the monster died the Princess and the fairies reappeared.
“Come with me. I’ll take you to my father and fulfill my mission,” Varaha told the princess. The fairies bid goodbye to their sister and left.
At the river bank he found his cousins sitting in their boat and waving to him.
“We are so glad to see you brother. We have been waiting for you,” said Binay.
“Who is this young lady?” asked Bipin.
Varaha told them the whole story.
“I wish we could leave right away. But the ship refuses to budge,” Binay said.
Varaha took care of the problem with Zahari and soon the four of them were on their way.
When night fell and Varaha was asleep his two cousins removed Zahari from his pocket. They then gagged him, tied his hands and feet and hanging a boulder around his neck threw him into the inky black waters of the river.
The next morning when Charu woke up Binay told her, “Our cousin suddenly felt that the old sage was calling him and left.”
The three of them reached the kingdom and the king was filled with joy and pride.
“Tomorrow Binay, who is older to Bipin by three minutes, will be crowned yuvaraj and marry Princess Charu,” the king declared.
Before the Princess could protest she was whisked away.
The two sons then told their father their adventures putting themselves in the place of their cousin Varaha and painting his as the villain.
Varaha felt himself sinking into the cold and deep waters. He held his breath and when he touched the river bed he looked around. He could see the remains of a boat. He dragged himself towards it. He could make out an oar with a metallic tip. He positioned himself and started rubbing the ropes that tied his wrists on the metal. After some struggle he managed to free himself, remove the boulder and rise up. He hit the surface of the water gasping for breath.
He reached the kingdom in the cover of the darkness and went straight home. His mother almost fainted with happiness when she saw him. He told her about his adventures and she quickly recounted the treachery of her cousins.
He went to the palace in which Charu was kept and stealthily entered the princess’ chamber. She was tossing and turning in her bed.
“Princess,” Varaha spoke very softly.
Charu woke up with a start.
“Why did you disappear suddenly? I was so worried?”
Varaha quickly told her the whole story.
“Thank God you have come. Now please take me away from here. I want to marry neither Bipin nor Binay.”
“But Charu they are both princes and are also very handsome.”
“They may be handsome in appearance but as far as character is concerned they are selfish, cowardly, mean and dishonest. I give greater importance to the virtues of the heart, mind and soul rather than external beauty. I want to marry someone who is brave, selfless and honest”
“But where will you get someone like that?”
“I have already found him,” she looked at Varaha and smiled shyly.
For a few moments Varaha couldn’t speak. Then he quietly said, “You have made me the happiest man in the world. Now I have a plan to unmask my cousins. Please listen carefully.....”
Next day in the royal court all arrangements were made for the coronation.
Just then there was an uproar and two guards entered holding a man between them. His face was covered and only his eyes were visible.
“What’s this? Who is this fellow?” demanded the king.
Varaha removed the cloth covering his face.
“Varaha, you scoundrel! How dare you enter my court after indulging in such treachery and deceit?” shouted the king.
The two brothers sprang forward with their swords. Varaha mumbled, “Zahari, come back to me.”
Suddenly from the folds of Bipin’s dress Zahari came flying in the air towards Varaha and he grasped it.
“Maharaj, Zahari will reveal who is treacherous and who is not,” Varaha said and raised Zahari in the air.
And right there in court, in front of the eyes of all those present the whole adventure unfolded. It was as if they were all watching a drama being enacted. But of course no one had seen a creature as vicious as the monster or bravery as exhibited by Varaha or treachery like that demonstrated by Bipin and Binay.
After it was over, the King looked at his two sons. They were trembling with fear.
“Get out of my sight and leave this kingdom. If I ever see you again I’ll have you thrown in the dungeons for the rest of your life.”
He looked at Varaha and said, “Son I cannot tell you how ashamed I am. I did great injustice to you and your mother. I hope the two of you will forgive me. I always laid a greater stress on external appearance while neglecting internal values. You have taught me a lesson I shall never forget.”
Turning to his courtiers the King declared, “Today itself my son Varaha will be crowned yuvaraj and thereafter he shall marry the beautiful princess Charu.”
Varaha came forward to touch his father’s feet and the two embraced each other.
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