Chapter XXV - 89 Home | Index | Previous | Next

When these words fell on his ears, the bed of jasmine flowers on which he was reclining appeared to have been transformed into a bed of snakes with fiery tongues, hissing and writhing all around him. He called the guard to come near him and he pelted question after question at him about the young man who had come from the hermitage: How is he? Does he appear sad or angry? Or, is he brimful of joy and equanimity?

The guard replied, "O king! The sage's son who has come to have your audience is quite calm and peaceful. He is repeating the words, 'Victory to the king', 'Victory to our ruler'. I do not see any trace of anger or passion on his face". This gave the king some comfort. He sought to find out what reply had been given to the questions asked by the young student. The guard said, "We told him, the king had been to the forest, he returned only just now, he is taking rest for a while; please wait for some time; as soon as he breaks his rest, we shall inform him". The king inquired, "What did he say in reply to this?" The guard said "Lord! The young man was most anxious to see you as quickly as possible. He said that he had some urgent message to communicate; he said his master would be awaiting his return and counting the minutes. He said that the sooner he sees you the better. He was repeating within himself all the time, 'May it be well with the king', 'May safety and prosperity be on him'. We offered him a high seat and invited him to occupy it, but, he did not accept it. He preferred to stand at the door; he is counting minutes there".

Tears of joy welled within the eyes of the king. Wiping them off, he hurried towards the entrance, without donning regal robes or insignia, without caring even to wear sandals or a robe over the chest. He fell prostrate at the feet of that son of a hermit; he held both his hands in his own and led him into the inner apartments, where he placed him on a high seat and himself sat on the floor beneath. He prayed that he might be told the reason for the journey.

The student said, "O king! My master, sage Sameeka sends you his special blessings. He has commissioned me to communicate to you some special matters", and broke into tears. Seeing this, the king exclaimed, "Well, tell me soon; if anything has to be done by me, tell me soon; I am prepared to lay down my life in the discharge of my obligations. Or, is my kingdom in any danger? Have I to take any measure of relief? I am ready to sacrifice anything for saving it".

The student messenger replied, "O king! No danger threatens the realm or the hermits. No fear can ever bother them. You are the very person whom dangers threaten, whom harm will overtake." When he gave this subtle warning, the king declared exultingly, "I am indeed blessed. When my subjects and the hermits engaged in asceticism are safe, I do not in the least care what happens to me. I inhale and exhale so that I can ensure peace and prosperity for them both." The king quietened after some time and asked the disciple, "Now tell me what your Master wanted me to know." He replied, "King! My master is very much concerned over a grievous wrong that has been committed, out of sheer ignorance. That is the prime reason for his sending me to you."

Hearing this, Parikshith was very much agitated. He asked, "What is the wrong, you speak about? Who did that wrong? Tell me, tell me all," he pleaded.