The Heroic Vikramaditya once ruled the city of Ujjayini. He was an intellectual philanthropist of a king who clung tenaciously to righteousness and was ever anxious to relieve his subjects’ miseries. He guarded his citizens as carefully as if they had been his own children, and they in turn regarded him with the same respect that they accorded to their own fathers.

King Vikrama Deliberates in his Court over Which of the Nine Planets is Superior: On one occasion King Vikramaditya sat serenely in his caparisoned court, incense coiling silently around his throne, surrounded by a slew of ritual specialists, ministers of state, courtiers, and pundits. After these assembled worthies had picked several preliminary topics threadbare, confabulation began on a subject that was dear to the king’s heart: the question of which of the Nine Planets is paramount.

Each planet had its champion among those mages who, like the great Varahamihira, had successfully traversed the vast ocean of astrological knowledge. Each partisan was a sincere worshipper of the planet he championed, and long worship had delivered to each some of the attributes of that planet, attributes which shone through to color their several presentations. Stillness descended on all sides of the throne as every ear listened with one-pointed concentration for the experts to state their opinions.