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The lion, monkey, snake and the merchant

Once upon a time, in an ancient city of India, lived a simpleton by name ‘Dharmabuddhi’. He was a very kind-hearted soul who helped anybody in need be it man or animal, expecting nothing in return. He was not a very rich person and lived a very frugal life.

One day, Dharmabuddhi was going to visit his friend in the next village. As he was passing by an open well in the nearby woods, he heard sounds of a lion grunting, a monkey screeching, a snake hissing and a man yelling for help. He peered into the well and saw all of them in distress. True to his nature, He pulled a long log of wood and pushed it into the well. The animals climbed out one by one but the man was not able to climb out without Dharmabuddhi’s help. When Dharmabuddhi tried to pull out the man, all the animals told Dharmabuddhi not to help the man get out. But Dharmabuddhi ignored them and rescued the man. What a mistake that was. All of them thanked Dharmabuddhi profusely and asked him to call them in times of distress. The lion told Dharmabuddhi to visit him in the deep jungle while the snake told Dharmabuddhi to think of him if Dharmabuddhi wanted help. The monkey told him to visit the mango tree which was located on the outskirts of the jungle and the merchant who so happened to be a gold merchant told Dharmabuddhi to visit him in the next town after passing the deep jungle. All of them  returned to their respective homes.

One day, Dharmabuddhi heard from one of his friends that there were better job opportunities in the neighbouring town. So, he set off to the neighbouring town in search of a job. He had to pass through the forest to get to the town. After walking for a while, Dharmabuddhi got tired and sat down under a tree to rest. The tree happened to be in a lion’s territory.

Suddenly there was a deafening roar and Dharmabuddhi sat rooted to the ground. He slowly turned around and what did he see? He saw a lion sitting right behind him. To his surprise, the lion did not attack him. The lion looked familiar to Dharmabuddhi. Aha! This was the lion that Dharmabuddhi saved!! The lion had recognized Dharmabuddhi instantly. It allowed Dharmabuddhi to hug him and it dropped a gold  necklace which it was having in its mouth at Dharmabuddhi’s feet.  Dharmabuddhi picked the glittering gold necklace up, thanked the lion and continued his journey. He thought he would sell this necklace to the gold merchant who he had rescued earlier and who was living there.

He had walked for a while when suddenly a gang of robbers pounced on him and took away his only radiant hope of feeding his family, the gold necklace. Helpless Dharmabuddhi sat under a mango tree thinking of what he would do now. Luck had favoured him so much in the last few minutes and now  his hopes were just washed away by the awful robbers. The monkey whom Dharmabuddhi had saved lived on this very tree. The monkey had witnessed what happened to  Dharmabuddhi and was determined to help him. He gathered some juicy mangoes and threw it near Dharmabuddhi. Surprised Dharmabuddhi looked up and saw the monkey smiling at him. Dharmabuddhi immediately recognized his old friend and asked him to also have some of the juicy mangoes. The monkey, who didn’t want to disappoint Dharmabuddhi climbed down and had two of the juicy mangoes he had given him. Sleepy after eating these mangoes, Dharmabuddhi  laid down and slept. The monkey, waiting for this moment jumped from tree to tree to find  robbers. Soon he found the robbers who so happened to be also sleeping under a tree. The monkey slowly and stealthily climbed down from the tree and found the  necklace. He grabbed it and  returned to his mango tree to find Dharmabuddhi. Dharmabuddhi had just woken up from his sleep and was searching for the monkey to bid him goodbye. The monkey landed near Dharmabuddhi and gave him the  necklace. Overjoyed by his friends’ faithfulness, he hugged the monkey and set off for the  town yet again.

After he reached the next town, he went in search of the merchant. Finally, Dharmabuddhi found the  merchant. The merchant welcomed Dharmabuddhi to his house and asked what Dharmabuddhi’s problem was. Dharmabuddhi told the merchant that had a gold necklace to be sold and also told him that the lion gave him the necklace. The wicked merchant recognized that this necklace belonged to the prince of this town who was killed while he was hunting. The merchant very well knew that Dharmabuddhi would not have committed this crime but he thought of the reward the king would give him of finding the “murderer”. He told Dharmabuddhi to stay at his house for the night as Dharmabuddhi would be ‘tired’ and the naive Dharmabuddhi agreed.

The merchant woke up early next morning and set off to the palace to inform the king that he had found the ‘murderer’. The depressed king, without holding any trial, put Dharmabuddhi in prison. Desolate Dharmabuddhi now realized that he should have listened to his friends’ advice and not helped the merchant. He realized that after all he had one more friend left, the snake. He thought desperately of the snake and suddenly he heard a hiss from the tiny window of the prison. Immediately, he saw a slim green snake slither into the prison cell from the window. Dharmabuddhi could not believe his eyes. This snake was the snake he had saved! The snake now spoke. “hisssssssss… dear Dharmabuddhi hissssssss why did you believe the cunning merchant………… you can’t do anything about it now………………. but i can………… I have brought  a herb which can cure my venomousssssssss ssssssssnake bite………… I will now bite the queen and nobody can sssssssssave her…………. except you……………. pour this herb juice in her mouth…….and she will be sssssssaved…………….the king will be overjoyed…….and release you……….good luck……………. ” The snake dropped a herb in front of Dharmabuddhi and  slithered out of the window. Soon it entered the  queen’s chamber and bit her. The queen instantly fell unconsious. The king now even more depressed announced that he would grant anyone anything they wish if they saved the queen. He summoned doctors from distant towns and villages but nobody could help.

Dharmabuddhi also heard of the announcement of the king and he seized the chance. He asked the king to allow him to cure the queen. The frantic king allowed Dharmabuddhi to cure the queen. As the snake had said, Dharmabuddhi crushed this herb and poured it into the queen’s mouth. The queen immediately regained consciousness. The  king, overjoyed by Dharmabuddhi’s help asked him what he wanted. Dharmabuddhi immediately narrated his story of how he got the necklace and how he was cheated by the merchant. The king got very angry at the merchant and wanted to punish him.  Dharmabuddhi told the king not to. Dharmabuddhi said that it would be bad if we take revenge on people who do bad to us. Dharmabuddhi also told the king about his shortage of money. The king instantly gave Dharmabuddhi a bag of gold coins and told Dharmabuddhi to start a business in this very town.

Dharmabuddhi, thrilled by this gesture of the king shifted to this town with his family and lived happily ever after thanking his friends and visiting them whenever he could.

 

P.S: This story has been written by my daughter who has listened to this story many times in her childhood. I have only edited it.

The story of Changu and Mangu

Changu and Mangu were two frogs who lived in a pond at the back of a farm house. The farm house had many cows and there was no dearth of milk and curds in the house. The ladies of the house used to churn butter in huge pots.

Once in a while Changu and Mangu used to wander inside the farm house but they were hardly noticed as they were very small in size.One day as they were having their usual  stroll, Changu accidentally fell into a pot of cream which had been kept for churning butter. Mangu thought Changu had jumped into the pot to have fun and he also followed suit.

The cream was very thick and both Changu and Mangu found it very hard to get out of the pot as the cream was very slippery. They could not swim easily too for the same reason. Mangu immediately lost heart and said to Changu ,”We are doomed and our fate is sealed in this pot today, friend.” Changu said “Mangu do not lose heart so easily, someone will come to churn the butter and find us and we can get out of this humongous pot. Try and keep swimming even if slowly, till then.” But Mangu was in  no mood to listen. He had already made up his mind that he would not live and therefore  moaned and groaned about his fate and did not even attempt to swim and soon sank down.

Changu did not give up and kept on swimming. Suddenly he found that the swimming was easier. the liquid had become thinner as the butter had separated and what was this??? A big ball of butter was floating beside him. Changu thought quickly and very nimbly jumped on the butter ball and in a second jumped out of the pot. He had saved himself from death!!!

He went home, sad about Mangu who gave up so easily and lost his life. He also realised what one could achieve with untiring efforts and belief in oneself.

The Story of Thirugnanasambandar

In the old city of Seerkali in Tamilnadu, lived a brahmin by name Sivapadahrudaya. He and his wife Bhagavathi Ammal were ardent Shiva Devotees and they used to pray to the presiding deity of the town Lord Shiva who was known by the name Thoniyappar.

In course of time Bhagavathi Ammal gave birth to a boy baby who was named Sambandan.  Sambandan was a normal bubbly child as any child would be and was very attached to his father.

One day when his father was going to the temple as usual, little Sambandan who was three years now, was adamant that he would go with his father. The father was reluctant to say ‘no’ to  Sambandan and took him along. When they reached the temple, Sivapadahrudaya wanted to take a dip in the holy pond of the temple, Brahma Teertham. He left Sambandan on the banks and told him to be there until he returned after his holy dip. Young Sambandan nodded his head and was watching his father go into the pond.

The father would dip his head and all in the pond and reappear again. This happened again and again and when once Sivapadahrudaya decided to hold his breath longer under the water young Sambandan panicked as he could not see his father. He cried out “Amma.. Appa” in anguish and Lord Shiva who was doing his celestial rounds with his consort Parvati heard this cry and decided to shower his grace on the little child for he had called them. Amma and Appa mean Mother and Father and when the Mother and Father of the Universe were called they could not resist showering their grace on the boy. Parvati descended to where Sambandan was and fed him milk from a golden cup. Sambandan was very happy and stopped crying for he was seeing the  ‘Jaganmata’ who is the epitome of kindness.

By that time the father had finished his dip and came up. He saw milk drooling from the mouth of Sambandan and got very angry. Angry that his little son had taken milk from somebody . Accepting food from all and sundry was not an acceptable norm those days. It is still not in many households in India.

He asked his son angrily , “Sambanda. who gave you the milk and why did you drink it?” Sambandan did not say anything . He just smiled remembering the kind face of Parvati. The father got very very angry and took a small stick and threatening to beat the child said ,”Tell me. Tell me now. Who gave you the milk?”

Just then Lord Shiva and Parvati appeared in front of Sambandan and he broke into a verse “Thodudaya sevian, vidai eri oar thooven madhi soodi ” meaning ‘He who wears earrings, who rides a bull and wears the moon on his head’. He sang ten verses continuously.  The people and the father were awe-struck that this small child was singing in chaste Tamil. The boy went on to sing many more songs.

People named the gifted child “Gnana Sambandan” that is Sambandan endowed with divine knowledge and with respect he is called Thirugnanasambandar. He lived to sing many songs called Thevarams about the Lord’s glory and also helped the people get Lord Shiva’s grace.

Sambandar lived in the seventh century and is considered the most prominent of the 63 Nayanmars. His hymns are said to be over 10000 but we have lost many of them over time and about few hundreds survive.

Sambandar with the grace of Lord Shiva, performed many miracles and one of them was reviving a girl by name Poompavai. You can read the story here.

The Greedy Mosquito

Once upon a time in a palace of a king, lived a family of bedbugs under the bed of the king. They were a happy lot as they got their fill of sweet royal blood every night without any effort. The king usually did not sleep immediately after lying down on his bed, but once he fell asleep, he was a really sound sleeper. The bedbugs were very careful to come out only after checking if the king was asleep and this was going on for quite some time.

One day, a mosquito chanced to get into the royal bedroom and perched on the underside of the bed. The wisest bug named Mootpooch came out and saw the mosquito. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”, asked the bug. “I am the Kosuku, the mosquito who lives in the nearby village”, said the mosquito. “I happened to come by this way and I have heard my father say that royal blood is the tastiest. So I thought I would have a taste of it.”

Mootpooch looked pensive. He said, “Look Kosuku, my family and myself have been living here peacefully for so long. You look very young and impulsive. I will just give you one piece of advice. Just wait till the king drifts into deep sleep and then I shall give the signal and thereafter you can have the blood to your heart’s content because if the king wakes up in between, it will be hell for all of us.”

Kosuku nodded his head in agreement and was waiting impatiently on one of the royal curtains waiting for the king. After a while the king came and sat on the bed. He said his daily prayers and meditated for some time and then lay down on the bed. Kosuku was peeping out of the curtain now and then. The king had started sleeping just then when the impatient Kosuku went near his ear and sang an “Oingggggg….” Almost immediately, he bit the king on his ear. The king tossed around and at once Kosuku aimed at his arm, biting furiously, getting intoxicated with the taste of royal blood. He bit here and there and Mootpooch, who had just come out was alarmed at what was happening. He tried to signal to Kosuku to stop but Kosuku was in no mood to listen to anybody. Suddenly the king sat up and SWAT, SWAT; the king’s huge palm smashed Kosuku. The king’s sleep gone, he called in his attendants and told them to thoroughly check the bed for any more mosquitoes and the attendants removed the matress, catching Mootpooch’s entire family unawares when all of them had assembled for their dinner and SWAT,SWAT,SWISH, SWISH went the attendants’ heavy dusters crushing the whole family of Mootpooch.

The greed of Kosuku, the mosquito, thus caused the destruction of himself and all the bugs!!!

Greed Kills!

Never Give Advice Unless It is Sought

Once upon a time in a forest there lived a group of monkeys. The group was a very unruly one and made lot of noise wherever they went.

As we know, monkeys like to imitate whatever we do. These monkeys had observed in the village a person starting a bonfire and the group of people sitting and warming themselves in the cold night. The monkeys wanted to imitate the person that evening and they broke logs and twigs and arranged them near a tree as they had seen the person arrange.

Now, they did not know how the fire was lit, though one monkey had seen the man putting a glowing object in between the logs and the fire had caught on.

Just then the monkey noticed a few fireflies fluttering glowing in the dusk and caught one of them and tried hard to push it in between the logs and blew it “Phoooooo!” The firefly flew away. The monkey kept on repeating the action and each time the fly would flit away. The monkeys got really angry.

Just then a little birdie perched on the tree cried out “Hey monkeys, those are fireflies, those will not set fire to the logs” The monkeys ignored the birdie. The birdie did not catch the message. She kept on saying the same thing. The rowdiest monkey of all got so irritated that he just leapt and caught the birdie and screwed her neck off.

The poor birdie did not know that the result of giving advice which is not sought could be fatal!!

Moral: Never give advice to anyone unless it is sought.

The Story of Sukanya and Sage Chyavana

In ancient India, there was this king Saryata who had a young and beautiful daughter by name Sukanya.

Near his kingdom in the deep woods there lived an old sage by name Chyavana. He lived all by himself and used to go into deep meditation for long periods. He was not aware of what was going on around him till he came out of his trance every time. Sometimes, creepers used to grow on him, sometimes ant hills used to be built around him but the sage had such deep concentration.

One day the playful Sukanya went out to the woods with her friends to spend the day out. As they were playing hide and seek, Sukanya spotted a huge ant hill. She had never seen an anthill before and so went near the ant hill with her friends. The friends were also unaware of what the structure was and they wanted to see what was inside. So Sukanya took a sharp stick and poked into the ant hill. Something moved inside and a loud shriek of pain “Aaaaaa” arose from the ant hill. The anthill split open and there came out the old sage Chyavana with both his eyes bleeding.

Sukanya was startled and shocked. Startled that there was a man inside the ant hill and shocked that her stick had hurt the eyes of the poor sage. She did not know what to do and her whole body shook in panic. The palace guards who had accompanied the girls for security ran and told the king of what had happened and the king rushed to the spot.

Sukanya was pleading with the sage to forgive her but the sage was in no mood to forgive.The king also asked for forgiveness and told the sage that he would grant him anything he asked. The sage said, “O King, I live all alone in these woods. Till today, it was OK as I was able to manage my activities alone. But your daughter has blinded me now with her prank. How will I, a blind man survive alone in the woods? I seek your daughter’s hand in wedding so that she can help me in my daily activities”

The king could not say anything as he had already promised the sage that he would grant anything. In those days a promise was always kept and people never went back on their words.

Sukanya was horrified. She was so young and she had to marry this old sage. But she knew she also had to honour her father’s words. Children always respected their parents words and believed that the parents did good only to them. She had no other option but to marry the old sage. She started to live with the sage in his hermitage.

Soon she started liking the life in the hermitage and served the sage whole heartedly. Life was going on very smoothly, when one day the Ashwini Kumars, who are celestial beings, the physicians to the Devas, were passing by Sage Chyavana’s hermitage. They spotted the young Sukanya and were enchanted by her beauty. They came down and enquired about her and came to know that she was Sage Chyavana’s wife.

They were taken aback by the truthfulness and sincerity of Sukanya and admired her faithfulness. Still they wanted to test her. So they said “Sukanya, we have not told you who we are. We are the Ashwini Kumars who are celestial physicians. We can restore youth to your husband but on one condition”. Sukanya was excited and asked them what was the condition. The Ashwini Kumars continued, “We shall take your husband into the river for a dip and when we come out you have to identify your husband correctly. If you do so, your husband will have his youth back”. Sukanya convinced Sage Chyavana to go with the Ashwini Kumars  and they all dipped themselves into the river and were out in a jiffy. But what was this?? All the three looked alike. Sukanya had to identify her husband correctly. She was confused for a moment but the next moment with all her concentration she prayed to the Supreme Goddess to help her and within few seconds she could feel that the person in the middle was her husband. She surrendered to the Goddess and with total faith on the Goddess, pointed out to the person in the middle. SHE WAS RIGHT!!!

Sage Chyavana was equally happy that she identified him. The Ashwini Kumars blessed them both and gifted longevity and youth to Sage Chyavana. Both Chyavana and Sukanya were extremely delighted and thanked the Ashwini Kumars for restoring the sage’s youth.

It is said that the Ayurvedic tonic Chyavanaprash  or restoring youthfulness has its name originating from Sage Chyavana.

Sage Chyavana and Sukanya lived a happy life.

All is for Good

Long long ago, there lived a king in Southern India. He had a wise minister who would not talk much. Every time when something happened, the minister would offer only one comment “Well, All is for Good”. The king could not understand how the minister could say the same thing for everything, whether a war was lost, whether a war was won, whether there were excessive rains, or a horrible summer or whatever be the reason.

One day, the king accidentally lost his little toe on his left leg in a riding accident. When the minister met the king and came to know of the accident, he said his usual sentence “All is for good.”

The king asked the minister what he meant by saying “All is for Good” when he had lost his toe, but the minister replied with a wide smile and that was it.

One fine day, the king with his men went for hunting in the nearby forests. In those days hunting was a sport for the royal families and kings used to go for hunting camps for days together. The king found a cheetah and started to chase it on his horse. The cheetah went deeper and deeper into the forest and at one time the king lost track of it. He turned around but could not recognise the way he had come. It was getting dark and the sun had set. The king was now separated from his men.

Suddenly he heard the sound of a group, “Hun hunah hun hunah, hun hunahe hun hunah.” The sound was coming closer and from a clearing nearby emerged a group of tribal people wearing animal skins and jewels made of bones and crowns made of feathers. They were carrying a palanquin and suddenly a gruff voice from the palanquin ordered something. The tribals stopped and kept the palanquin down and from the palanquin stepped out a fearful looking man. He pointed at the king and said something in an unknown language. Suddenly the other tribals pounced on the king taking him unawares and tied him up with a rope to a nearby tree.

The king however brave he was, was frightened at heart. He understood from the actions of the tribals that he was going to be sacrificed to their god. The tribals were sharpening their heavy swords and they had lit up the place with fire torches. The place was decorated with wild flowers. They started chanting the same “Hun hunah hun hunah, hun hunahe hun hunah!!”, going around a sacrificial fire that had been created. After a few minutes, the tribal chief ordered his men to untie the king’s ropes. The king was then led near the fire. Just as the two men near the king raised their swords to strike, an old tribal got up and said something for which the tribals responded immediately by putting their swords down and started checking the king’s face, hands and legs. When they found his little toe missing, the tribal gave out a cry and said something. The king understood that they were looking for a perfect human to be sacrificed. Since the king did not have his little toe, he was considered a misfit for sacrifice.

The tribals fell at the feet of the king and escorted him out of the jungle. 

The king thought over the miraculous way he had escaped the sacrifice, thanks to his missing little toe and now he understood why his minister said “ALL IS FOR GOOD”

“All is for Good” smiled the king to himself.

The Foolish Camel

Once upon a time, in a town in central India, there was a rich merchant. Once, he found that he had acquired lot of camels and therefore wanted to sell some of them. The animal market was in a village at a distance from the town an one had to pass through a thick jungle to reach the village. The merchant started with his retinue of about four or five men and five camels which he wanted to sell.

The journey through the jungle was about four to five hours and on the way, one of the camels hit its foreleg on a boulder very badly. It could not walk. It sat on the grass. The merchant tried to make it get up but of no avail. It was getting dark and the merchant decided to leave the camel there as he could not risk his own life and therefore left the camel to fend for itself and went away with his team.

The poor camel was frightened of the dark but nevertheless had enough grass to feed on and also found some other plants which were actually medicinal plants. After eating the plants for two days, the camel to its surprise, found that his leg had healed. But he did not know where to go and started roaming aimlessly.

In the same jungle, there lived a jackal-crow duo who were both equally cunning and depended on an lion for their food. They used to flatter the lion all day and feed on the remains of the lion’s hunt. But slowly, the lion became weak with age and could not hunt as swiftly as he did earlier. The jackal-crow duo were wondering about the fate of their food at this rate. Just then, they sighted the camel and thought that it could be of some use to them. So they went and slowly befriended the camel with their sweet words and asked the camel to join their group.

The camel unwittingly joined the group as it was a town-bred camel and did not know the ways of the jungle. He also felt safe in their company as he knew that no other animal dare attack an animal in the company of a lion. Days passed and the lion was hunting prey once in 2 days and once in 3 days and sometimes only once a week. It was hard for the jackal and the crow to be without food for long periods. But the camel simply fed off the grass and was growing fatter by the day. He was happy that he had good friends and a carefree life.

It so happened that the lion could not hunt for the next 10 days. The jackal and crow were very hungry and did not know what to do. It was then that they plotted against the camel. With a plan in their mind, they called the camel along and went to see the lion. They talked to the lion about the dwindling food and their ‘concern’ about the lion’s health, which would deteriorate if there was no food.

Suddenly, the crow fell at the feet of the lion and said, “O King, I offer myself to thee. I pray that you eat this small body of mine and satisfy your hunger.” The jackal immediately followed. He pushed the crow aside with his paw and a disgusted look on his face. “What do you think you brat?!! Do you think the king can even satisfy his hunger for a day by eating your puny body??? Eat me, O king. I offer thee my flesh, bone and skin.” The lion was wondering as to what was happening. The camel too, thought that when both the jackal and crow were offering sacrifices, he should also do so to show his loyalty. Moreover, the lion would not eat his friends.

So he fell flat in front of the lion and said, “O king, you have given me asylum in this hostile jungle and what more is there to offer to you than my body?? How will your hunger be satiated by eating a skinny jackal? Therefore, please eat me, O king” and he closed his eyes. Little did he know that it would be the last time he would do so.

“Grrrrrrrrrrrraaaar.” There was a deafening roar and the next second, the camel’s neck had been torn apart. The lion and the cunning duo feasted on the camel till all that remained were the bones.

sdgbseth

 

Thus, the camel learnt the hard way that friends must always be chosen with care.

The Story of the Syamantaka Gem

The story of the Syamantaka Gem is from the Srimad Bhagavatham which again contains a lot of stories on the life of Lord Krishna.

In Dwaraka, there lived a Yadava nobleman by name Satrajit. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Surya and propitiated Lord Surya regularly with great devotion. One day Lord Surya was overwhelmed with Satrajit’s devotion that He appeared in person to him in a dazzling form and gifted Satrajit with the jewel He was wearing.  The gem was none other than the SYAMANTAKA GEM. This Gem was supposed to be a force to ward off natural calamities and keep the owner very prosperous. Everyday in the morning the Gem produced lots of Gold coins. Satrajit was very happy and kept the Gem with great devotion in his altar and worshipped it. He would distribute the gold coins everyday to the needy and thus everyone was becoming prosperous.

Lord Krishna who also lived in Dwaraka came to know of the Gem and thought that such a treasure would be safer in the hands of the king. He also felt that it was only proper for wealth to be in the custody and command of the king of the place. So he asked  Satrajit to keep the gem in the custody of the king. Satrajit was not willing and felt that it was not Krishna’s business. Lord Krishna left it at that.

Now, Satrajit had a brother by name Prasenjit who was very fond of hunting. One day, Prasenjit, while going for hunting wanted to wear the Gem on his person. Satrajit gladly gave it to him. Prasenjit hung the gem as a pendant in his chain and went to the forest. While hunting in the forest, he had an encounter with a lion and died. The lion was enchanted by the Gem that it pulled it along with the chain and was carrying the same, when it came face to face with Jambavan. Jambavan was the mighty bear who had helped Lord Rama in the previous Yuga, while Rama went to recover Seetha from the clutches of Ravana who had carried her there. After the period of Lord Rama, Jambavan who has the gift of being a Chiranjeevi, (that is to live for ever) was living in one of the caves in the forest there with his extended family. Jambavan, when he saw the Gem with the chain being carried by the lion, was so fascinated with the dazzle of the gem that he struck the lion dead and carried the jewel to his cave. The little bears in his cave, his children and grandchildren were equally fascinated by the gem and they took it as a toy.

Days passed and Prasenjit did not return to the palace. A search team was sent to the forest but they returned empty handed. Satrajit was worried. He started suspecting Lord Krishna of kidnapping and killing his brother as Krishna had shown interest in the Gem. Lord Krishna was deeply perturbed when he heard about Satrajit’s thinking. He was determined to find Prasenjit and the Gem.

Krishna took about ten people and went into the forest. After a few days, they found Prasenjit’s body but with the Gem missing. They also found the pug marks of a lion. They followed the pug marks and at a distance, found the dead body of the lion. It appeared that the lion had been hit by an animal with sharp claws. And then they noticed the marks of the bear. They started following the marks of the bear’s paws and it led them to a huge cave at a distance. Krishna surveyed the cave from outside and told his team to wait under a tree while he went inside.

Slowly and stealthily, Krishna entered the cave, when he saw a little bear toying with the Syamantaka Gem at the entrance. He had to get the gem without disturbing the bear. Such thoughts racing in his mind, he waited behind a crevice near the entrance in the cave till the little bear turned aside. Just as he was about to pick up the gem which lay on the ground, the little bear turned around and gave out a startled grunt. Hearing the grunt, Jambavan rushed out  from inside. He was completely shocked at the stranger in his cave and without even talking to him, came to attack him. Lord Krishna was ready and took him on. First they fought with knives, then with stones. Then they uprooted trees and fought. “This stranger is so strong”, thought Jambavan and decided to wrestle barehanded with him. Krishna was ever ready and the fight lasted for over ten days. The people outside was worried as Lord Krishna had not returned yet.

Jambavan started worrying. Nobody had fought with him so tirelessly and who was this stranger with so much strength? It was then that Lord Krishna appeared to Jambavan as Lord Rama. “Alas!! what have I done” thought Jambavan as he fell flat at the Lotus feet of his Lord. He was filled with deep remorse as he started worshipping Lord Krishna repenting all the while at his thoughtless fight. He enquired on Lord Krishna’s mission and gave him the Syamantaka Gem and honoured the Lord with a variety of fruits and delicacies. He also requested the Lord that his daughter be accepted as a wife by the Lord and so Jambavati was married to the Lord. On the touch of Lord Krishna, the bear Jambavati was transformed into a beautiful lady.

Krishna returned to the town with his retinue, the Gem and Jambavati. He gave back the Gem to Satrajit and informed him of Prasenjit’s death. Satrajit was truly ashamed of having suspected Lord Krishna and as a token of gratitude to the Lord offered the hand of his daughter Satyabhama to the Lord and so, the Lord married Satyabhama.

This is the story of the Syamantaka Gem.

It is said that Lord Krishna had looked at the moon on a Chaturthi day , and it is because of that he suffered this blame. This is linked to the story where Ganesha curses the moon for mocking at his figure and said that whoever saw the moon on a chaturthi day would have to undergo sufferings and blame!

Birbal and the Magic Sticks

We have all heard of Raja Birbal who entertained Emperor Akbar with his wit and wisdom. He not only entertained the emperor but also solved the problems of many of his friends with his wisdom.The following is one such story.

One of Birbal’s friends by name Chamanlal had a problem. One of the Ivory showpieces in his house went suddenly missing. Chamanlal was very upset as the piece was a family heirloom and had been in the family’s possession for over two hundred years and also it was a very costly piece. In those days people were not aware of animal cruelty and used to display Ivory as a mark of their social status.

Chamanlal had seven servants and all of them looked innocent and denied a role in the missing ivory case. Chamanlal thought for a while and went out to take a stroll. At the end of the road he met Birbal who immediately sensed that there was something wrong. He coaxed Chamanlal to tell him and Chaman went on to tell him about the missing ivory piece and that there was no proof or evidence as to who had a hand in it. Birbal told Chaman not to worry. He told Chaman that he would visit him in the evening.

As promised, Raja Birbal came to Chamanlal’s house in the evening. He was carrying seven sticks of approximately one foot length each. He asked Chamanlal to call out the servants and there were all of them: Raju, Suresh, Mahesh, Ramesh, Lalloo, Changoo and Bittoo. Birbal handed them one stick each and told them, “These are magical sticks. Keep them with you and tomorrow when I come back, the stick of the person who has stolen the ivory would have become one inch longer. See you tomorrow”.And Birbal left.

The next day, as promised, Birbal came back to Chamanlal’s house and asked for the sticks. As each one handed over the stick, Birbal measured them. Just as Lalloo gave his stick, Birbal said, “Chaman, here is your thief!” Lalloo immediately cried confessing his guilt and fell at the feet of Chamanlal. He brought out the ivory show piece from where he had hidden it. Chamanlal dismissed Lalloo from his service and then asked Birbal “Raja Birbal, I never knew you know magic also. How did you get the magic sticks?” Birbal replied, “I do not know magic my dear friend, the sticks are normal sticks” Chaman said “But…but… how did the length….?” Birbal replied, “The length did not increase as I told them. Lalloo was afraid that the stick would grow one inch longer and had cut the stick in the night by one inch so that if it grew, it would still be of the same length. Ha ha ha…..”

Chamanlal and his family marvelled at Birbal’s intelligence and thanked Birbal wholeheartedly. Emperor Akbar too heard of the incident and praised him.

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