long ago there lived a king. His principality comprised seven towns and
his capital was called Rajapuri. He was a kind and conscientious ruler
and dispensed justice with an even hand to high and low alike. He maintained
peace and his subjects lived happy and content under him. He was a god-fearing
man and his subjects held him in reverence as their father. He punished
with a severe hand all those who dared to trouble his subjects in the least.
He took measures for the welfare even of the birds and animals living in
his country. Ponds were dug to store drinking water for the quadrupeds
and troughs were placed on perches to enable birds to quench their thirst.
In all this he was assisted by able, honest and hardworking ministers.
had but one longing and that was for the birth of an heir-apparent. The
king had but one queen who had borne him seven daughters. The king and
the queen were highly devoted to each other but craved for the birth of
a little brother to the seven sisters to gladden the hearts of the subjects
and their own. The Prince would shoulder the responsibilities of the kingdom
in time to come. Even his subjects begged God Almighty in their matins
and vespers to grant their ruler the gift of a little son, and the royal
couple did all in their power to secure such a coveted fruit. They gave
lavishly in charity which included gifts of land, garments, corn, livestock
and gold. Holy men from far and near came to Rajapuri to give their benedictions
to the queen who also met the expenses on the weddings of many destitute
girls and the maintenance of orphans and widows. Still the heir-apparent
of their dreams was as far away as ever.
The king except
when busy with the affairs of the State was always melancholy. "What good
is it for me to rejoice in my palace," he would brood, "when the line of
my illustrious ancestors will come to an end with my demise? Happy are
the poor beggars in my kingdom who look forward to the day when their sons
can relieve them of their burdens.... Were it not better for me to renounce
my throne and take to the life of an ascetic in the forests of the vast
Himalayas or in the cave of Shri Amarnath Ji. . . ?" He did not reveal
this corner of his heart to his consort lest she feel hurt. She, however,
had not given up hope and retained faith in holy men and ascetics.
One day the
queen was sitting as usual in her chamber when she was startled by a call
for alms. It was nothing new for her who satisfied hundreds of such calls
month, but this time there was a peculiar lure and a strange tone in the
voice of the caller which demanded the personal attention of the queen.
She at once 'rushed to the courtyard. She beheld a jogi invested in an
expression of ecstasy. He had long locks of curly hair running down to
his back, his bare body was smeared with ashes and he had a clattering
wooden sandal under his feet. He had rings in his ears and his eyes were
sparkling. He carried a beggar's bowl in his hand and a wallet hung from
his shoulder. The queen requested him to name what would please him.
"Give me anything
in the name of God," replied the jogi. The queen told her consort that
the jogi was the very person whose aid should be enlisted in seeking
fulfilment of the age-long craving. She gave him a handful of precious
stones which he received in his wallet. The queen explained to him how
she was pining for a son. She said, "God gave us a kingdom to rule and
many rulers acclaim our suzerainty. But what is the good of all this splendour
when we have no male issue to look after it on our demise? Our seven daughters
will go their own way and bless the homes of young men unknown to us. Would
that they had a brother to shine in their galaxy as the sun! " she concluded
with a sigh.
The jogi listened,
permission may I say something more?" asked the queen.
The jogi nodded
and the queen proceeded, "Only a few days back I saw in a dream a care-free
man resembling you. He patted me on the shoulder and assured me that my
longing would be fulfilled after nine months. O jogi, you alone
can interpret this dream."
matter short the jogi said that he would give them a son provided
they returned the child to him after twelve years. "The child will be yours
for twelve years if you promise that I can have him at the end of that
period," he said firmly. The king and his consort held consultations and
ultimately gave their promise that he could have the child back after twelve
years. On this solemn promise the jogi gave them the assurance that
their barren land would soon turn green and their longing for a male child
would be fulfilled even before their expectation. "Call the baby by the
name of Akanandun," he added, took a few strides and was lost to view.
In due course
the queen was conscious of motherhood once again. At first she kept it
a secret. When her consort made persistent inquiries she shared the secret
with him on the condition that he kept it to himself.
"It is none
else but Akanandun" said the king and rejoiced in his heart. "Was it God
or man who granted us the gift?" he added complimenting the jogi.
your chickens before they are hatched," cautioned his wife.
being over the queen was in labour pains and was delivered of a male child.
"The jogi has indeed made his word good," said the king. There were
immense rejoicings in the whole country on the birth of the heir-apparent.
Thanks-giving services were held in temples and shrines, and people came
in large numbers to the ruler to offer their congratulations. Inside the
palace everyone was mad with joy. The king who already possessed a stout
heart for giving gifts was bountiful like a river. God had fulfilled his
heart's desire and he tried his utmost to see that nobody went away disappointed
from his door.
The baby was
brought up right royally. There were seven wet-nurses to feed him at the
breast. Their lullabies chanted melodiously sent him to sweet slumbers.
They rocked his cradle which was draped in velvet and cloth of gold, and
inlaid with gems. The baby was the dearest little creature ever born. His
eyes and eye-brows, his nose, his lips and chin, his forehead and complexion—
each in its own way betokened an extraordinary heredity for the little
infant who shone as the light of the palace. His sisters fondled him in
all affection and he was the apple of the eyes of his parents who were
ever grateful for his birth.
The baby grew
fast into a child and then a strong, handsome and intelligent boy. His
parents arranged for his education in a befitting manner. Akanandun, for
that is how they named the new-born as advised by the jogi, went
to school with his satchel and drank the learning deep according to the
fashion of the time. His teachers were not a little surprised at his acute
intelligence and sharp wit. The boy imbibed all that was worth knowing.
looked hopefully to the future when the boy, in the fullness of his physical
strength and the maturity of his wisdom, would relieve his father of the
burden of ruling the State, there was one day a wild uproar in the streets.
"What is all this hue and cry about?" asked the passers-by and heard back
in whispers: "Twelve years are over and the jogi has returned to
claim the child." People talked with trepidation. "Was all this a dream?"
"And is the jogi really so callous as to deprive us of the young
prince?" "Will he blow out the lamp which is the only source of light in
the palace and abroad?"
jogi made his call at the palace and the ruler and the queen rushed out
to welcome him within. Their hearts were full with the debt of gratitude
for the jogi for the invaluable gift and they were only too eager
to do something to repay the debt to whatever extent. They solicited him
to take a seat of honour and to indicate what would please him.
"I have come to seek fulfillment of the promise you gave. I have not seen
Akanandun for more than twelve years. Get him to my presence now."
has gone to the seminary. He will be here presently," said the queen.
"If you but
name a precious gift I would deem it a privilege to place it at your feet,"
submitted the father.
The jogi promptly
replied, "I have nothing to do with gifts. I simply want my Akanandun."
made many subtle attempts to beguile his mind, but to no purpose. These
attempts only enraged him. He called the child by name and the latter was
on the spot immediately. They submitted that he was the one who alone sustained
their lives and that their very existence was impossible without him. The jogi
was harsh and stern, "I have to kill Akanandun and you will rue it if you
try to dissuade me."
heard it burst into tears except the jogi. He divested the child
of his garments and ornaments. Warm water was got for cleansing his body
to which his mother had to attend. The child had a bright and radiant body
and the jogi had him dressed in bright new clothing. He had the
soles of his feet dyed in henna and applied collyrium to his bright
almond eyes. The child looked like a fresh-bloomed flower, but the jogi
had no time to waste. Proceeding forthwith to kill the child, he got a
butcher's knife. Everybody there cried but the jogi was entirely
remorseless. He laid Akanandun sprawling on the ground and asked his sisters
to catch hold of his limbs severally. There was a tremendous intensification
in the hue and cry raised. The king tore his tunic to shreds and his wife
rolled herself on the dust. But the jogi was remorseless and reminding
them of the promise given warned them of the inevitable consequences if
they tried to shirk the fulfillment of the promise.
passed on the knife to the king and asked him to behead the child. Even
demons and monsters would fail to comply with such a commandment. But when
the king betrayed hesitation the inexorable jogi, overawing him,
pushed the knife into his hand. Finding that there was no escape the unlucky
father cut the innocent throat and scarlet blood welled out. The house
was turned into hell. Who was so petrified as to resist sobbing and crying?
There was beating of breasts, gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair. The
blood stained the walls, coloured the floor and dyed their clothes.
movement of the child's limbs having petered out, the jogi severed
them, had them washed and began to hack the flesh assiduously like a butcher.
When it was over he asked them to put the flesh into an earthenware vessel
and to boil it. Akanandun's mother attended to it smothering her sobs and
hiccoughs. The jogi warned her, on pain of dire punishment, not
to lose even the least particle of flesh. When the faggots were burning
bright, the jogi asked her to put the lid on. lie also got oil poured
into several cauldrons which were put on fire. The flesh was thus cooked
as if it were mutton, salt and spices being added according to need. The jogi
asked the queen to make haste as he was getting hungry. The lady could
suppress her feelings no longer and burst out upon him: "Which is the faith
that permits thee to eat human flesh? O stone-hearted jogi, how
have I ever offended thee? Aren't thou afraid of the curse of the innocent
replied, "O lady, I am indifferent to all the human weal or woe. You may
take me for a goblin or an ogre, but I have to fulfill my promise. So,
without prolonging the matter please attend to your cooking and tell me
how it tastes."
In spite of
her protests the unfortunate lady was forced to taste the soup. The jogi
asked her to pick out the flesh and to cool it as it was his wont not to
eat steaming dishes. He also asked for seven freshly baked earthenware
bowls. The bowls were got and he distributed the flesh evenly among them
all. The queen asked him what for he was dressing up seven bowls with flesh.
He replied promptly, "Four are meant for the female folk, two will suffice
us, two males, and one I am keeping for Akanandun."
This was a
blow which cut the queen deep in her heart. "How preposterously the fellow
speaks," she thought.
Meanwhile the jogi
passed on the bowls to the people for whom they were meant and turning
to the queen, said, "O lady, go and call Akanandun upstairs. I shall feel
really glad to see him and I can't taste a bit in his absence."
This was obviously
too much for her and she could not help saying, "O jogi, I completely
fail to fathom your mind. I have suffered the loss of my son, but have
not lost my wits yet."
returned, "I'm not what you take me for, O lady; I constantly change my
deceptive appearances," and with that he gazed at the queen so that she
seemed to have been held in a vice.
When he again
asked her to call Akanandun from below she could not help going downstairs.
And when she called him by name she was surprised to hear, "Coming mother."
Anon he came to her as before, was held in fond embrace and carried upstairs
where another pretty bewilderment was in store for her. The jogi
was nowhere to be seen and the seven bowls of cooked flesh had disappeared.