Stories for the
Questions (Part 3)
for Part 2)
lust for wealth grew. When he
was alone, he would hardly carve one stone a day. After Ananta joined him,
the number rose to three a day. Now he had half a dozen workers and the
number of stones carved each day was more than a dozen. Yet he was not
Ananta observed, Mihira was getting tense day after day. When
alone, Mihira was contended with earning two square meals. After that,
when he got enough to live a respectable life, he
started yearning for a cow, a pair of oxen and good house, like
that of his cousin. Now he had all this and more, yet he was not
satisfied. He revealed his desire to equal Lochana, the town head-priest,
A year later, Mihira became the richest man of his town. He had not
to work himself now. He had scores of workers to do the job. He had two
horse carriages, while Lochana had only one. But he continued to look
tense. He had enough of wealth but no contentment.
Mihira heard from traders, the tales of a rich man across the river
Saraswati. His name was Kalpaka. He had two palatial houses for his two
wives. Kalpaka also had ten cows, half a dozen of horses, five pairs of
oxen and tens of servants.
Mihira's lust knew no bounds. He now wanted to equal Kalpaka. The
spring season ahead would pave the way to fulfill his dream. A grand
temple in the name of goddess Saraswati was to be constructed on the bank
of river. People from all villages and towns in the vicinity had joined
hands for this purpose. Mihira was the only one to supply stones, as he
was nearest and the best. He employed hundreds of workers and started the
job well in advance. He also shifted his place of work to the open ground
near the site of temple.
the end of season, thousands of stone blocks stood carved and stacked at
the temple premises. People were all praise for Mihira and Ananta. By the
time, construction of temple got underway, Mihira became so rich as to
leave Kalpaka way behind. He married two more women and constructed three
palatial houses near the temple, one for each of his wives. He was a happy
Ananta was delighted. He was now ready with an answer to his first
question: 'In what lies one's lasting pleasure?' He was sure, one's
ultimate pleasure was in having enough of riches.
Ananta bid good-bye to Mihira. Mihira was reluctant to let him go,
for, he was sure, he could make more riches with his help. But Ananta did
not agree. More than four years of his five year term had already elapsed.
He was yet to seek answer to the third question. So he wished him good
luck and promised to see him again on his return.
• • •
had heard a lot about river Ganga and the learned people living on its
banks. He decided to spend some time there to seek knowledge and look for
an answer to his third question. He met some people on his way. They were
headed for Kashi, the most sacred place on the banks of Ganga. Ananta
In a couple of days, Ananta reached Kashi. One of the persons
accompanying him, introduced him to Guru Vasudeva, a highly learned
Brahmin of Kashi. On learning that Ananta had come from a far off place to
seek knowledge, Vasudeva welcomed him into his Ashram.
Guru Vasudeva's Ashram was home to many a boys. All of them came
from well-to-do families and most of them were from very far off places.
While in Ashram, they received lessons on various subjects ranging from
spirituality to high values of morality. Reading the religious scriptures,
Vedas and Puranans, also formed a part of their daily routine. Besides
this, the boys had to perform daily chores of the Ashram. Ananta, who had
acquired some agricultural skills at Anusuya's place, was asked to work in
Ashram life was a new experience to Ananta. Every job was done in
accordance with a fixed schedule. There was perfect coordination between
the inmates of the Ashram. Guruji's discourses were enlightening. He loved
all his disciples alike. Ananta realised, he was fortunate to have come to
One day while in the fields, Ananta saw a boy, sitting alone at the
periphery. The boy looked very gloomy. On enquiry from other inmates,
Ananta learned that the boy's name was Gautama. His father Narsimha, had
been taken into custody by the king of Kashi. No further details were
known, nor was anybody allowed to discuss the issue. Ananta could not
resist. He requested Guruji to tell him about Gautama. Guruji did not
Each day Ananta observed, Gautama would sit at a particular spot
facing the entrance, perhaps waiting for his father. Ananta could not see
his plight. He once again requested Guruji to tell him about Gautama. Guru
Vasudeva looked into Ananta's eyes. He found in them, a deep desire to
know the truth. Guruji could no longer hold back the truth. So he narrated
Narsimha's story to him.
• • •
Narsimha hailed from a country named Sadhra, which was located to
the South of Kashi. He was a young boy when his father, Abhinava died.
Abhinava was a renowned Raj-jyotshi of Sadhra. Narsimha had acquired jyotish-vidya
from his father, right from his childhood. Actually, this knowledge passed
from generation to generation in their family and there was nobody to
compete with them. On the death of Abhinava, Narsimha was designated as
the new Raj-jyotshi by the king of Sadhra. He was to take charge and shift
to Rajmahal only after proving himself worth that honour, by making at
least two correct predictions. Till that time, Narsimha was to spend his
days in his village.
The king was a staunch believer in astrological fallouts, so
Raj-jyotshi would always enjoy a special status in his palace. Narsimha
was sure, he would go well with his duties and earn good name for himself
like his father. He was only waiting for an opportune time to make a
But luck did not favour Narsimha. One day in the morning, he was
informed that the queen had delivered a baby girl. He was informed the
time of birth of the child and asked to predict her future. Narsimha was
excited. The time had finally come to make his first prediction. He was
about to begin his calculations when someone knocked at his door. Narsimha
opened the door and saw a fellow villager Sehdeva. Sehdeva told him that
his wife had delivered a baby and requested him to predict the child's
future. Narsimha took necessary details from him. Sehdeva left. After a
detailed study, Narsimha's calculations revealed that the baby born to the
queen would earn laurels, while the one born to the villager would die the
same day. He sent his predictions to respective parents through a
The king and the queen were overwhelmed with joy on reading
Narsimha's prediction. The news travelled through length and breadth of
the kingdom in no time. A
great raj-bhog was ordered to be arranged. Just before the Sunset,
when the merry making was at its peak, news came of the death of the baby.
There was commotion. The King and the Queen were shocked. Guests began
leaving the palace wailing. Food cooked for guests was thrown away. Lights
were blown off and the palace drowned into complete darkness.
News reached Narsimha. King was furious with him for his wrong
prediction. Narsimha was scared, knowing well that he would be hanged. He
decided to leave immediately to save his life. He covered his face with a
scarf and walked as fast as he could to get out of his country. On the way
he heard people talking about the wrong prediction and the punishment to
follow. It was midnight when he found himself safe, far away from his
country and its people.
Narsimha kept walking all through the night, treading difficult
terrains, valleys and ridges. In the morning, he found himself in Kashi.
He took a dip in the river Ganga and slept on its sands.
Narsimha did not know for how long he had been sleeping. But when he woke up, he saw a crowd gathered around him. They wanted to know who he was and where
from had he come. Narsimha did not want to reveal his identity. He was
sure, the king would send his men to locate him. He introduced himself as
Murlidharan. He told them that he hailed from a distant place and had come
to Kashi to seek knowledge. People guided him to Vasudeva's Ashram.
To keep his identity completely hidden, Narsimha, who was now named
Murlidharan, told Vasudeva that though he was an illiterate, he had come
all the way to Kashi to seek knowledge. Vasudeva was very kind to him. He
admitted him into the Ashram. Guru also imparted necessary education to
him, to enable him understand Vedas. He was assigned duty in the Bhojanalaya.
For five long years, Murlidharan lived in the Ashram. He wished to
marry now and lead a family life. He expressed his desire to Guru Vasudeva.
Vasudeva conceded but did not permit him to quit his duty at the Ashram.
With the blessings of Guru Vasudeva, he married Rohini, the daughter of a
poor Brahmin of Kashi and lived in a small hut nearby.
Murlidharan did not reveal his identity even to his wife, Rohini.
Both of them were happy. In due course of time, Rohini gave birth to a
lovely boy. The boy was named Gautama.
Gautama was born with great talents. He was very sharp in all
respects and had a natural flair for astrology. This surprised Guru
Vasudeva. He enquired from Murlidharan if there was ever an astrologer in
his family? Murlidharan denied and the matter ended there.
One day, the king of Kashi decided to renounce the kingship and set
for a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, along with his queen. So he
planned to crown his son Rajkumar Varun as the king. He fixed an
auspicious day and time for Rajkumar's coronation as per the advice of his
Rajguru. The ceremony was to be held in an open ground, big enough to
accommodate the entire population of Kashi. A massive Pandal was erected
on the ground for the coronation. Preparations for the ceremony started
well in advance.