Grumbling to herself thus, she strode over to the peg to retrieve the necklace she had hung there, and when she did not find it, she roughly woke the king and said to him, “Now I see! You are in fact a mega-cheat, not a limp nincompoop. You stole my necklace and then went to sleep; but you will not be able to digest my necklace. Give it back to me, and then hit the road.”
The king replied, “Sister! I did not take your necklace. I was sleeping here, and you are accusing me falsely.”
Hearing this the outraged girl stormed off to her father and yelled at him, “Father! You have really found a fit husband for me. He is a mega-cheat and a thief, pervaded with the talent for robbery. During the night he stole my necklace and has hidden it somewhere.” Hearing this the merchant rushed to the king and inveighed, “0 dunderhead! I gave you shelter in my house, fed you the choicest foods, and suggested that you marry my daughter. And this is how you pay me back? What have you done?”
King Vikrama replied, “I did not steal your necklace. It is the power of my ill-fortune which has landed me in this soup.”
On hearing this the merchant lost his temper and said to his servant, “Take this rogue, tie him up, and give him a good beating. Maybe then he will admit to his crime, because it doesn’t look as if he will admit to it without a whipping.”
The servant tied King Vikrama soundly with a rope and gave him a good bashing, during which the merchant kept shouting, “Thrash him soundly, for only then will he admit to the theft and produce the necklace. Compassion is inappropriate here.”
The merchant’s servants battered the king so thoroughly that King Vikrama, acutely distressed by this tightening of Saturn’s noose around his neck, cried out, “0 merchant! I don’t know anything at all about this necklace. You are beating me fruitlessly! You have checked my body and inspected my clothes, but nothing has been found. Have a little compassion for me! I did not take your necklace, I don’t have your necklace, I don’t know anything about your necklace. You are bearing me in vain.”
The merchant then said to his servants, “This is some seasoned thief we have here, for in spite of all this pounding he still refuses to talk. Now take him to the king! When the king’s justice has taught him a good lesson he will produce the necklace.”
The merchants servants accordingly bound both of King Vikramas hands, and led him into the presence of King Chandrasena, where they told their king the story of the necklace in full detail. Then King Chandrasena said to King Vikramaditya, “0 you scoundrel! Bring out this necklace straightaway and return it to the merchant!”
King Vikramaditya said, “I did not steal the necklace, and I do not know anything about the necklace. You have a wrong idea about this necklace, about which I know absolutely nothing. All this trouble is occuring because the planet Saturn is angry with me. I do not steal, but if you still doubt me, all right, then, have it your way: I am a thief; please show compassion to me.”
On hearing this King Chandrasena rose like a fire blazing up and said, “You impostor! You still will not admit to your crime? You stole from this merchant and are pretending not to have done so? Guards! Cut off this knave’s hands and feet and throw him out of town and see that he gets no food or water from today onwards.”
Saturn had turned King Chandrasena’s mind topsy-turvy, making him believe that King Vikramaditya was a thief, and preventing him from taking the least cognizance of King Vikrama’s pleas.
King Chandrasena’s servants, following their masters orders, then took King Vikrama out of town to the executioner, who chopped off his hands and feet. At the moment they were hewn away a sudden wave of woe rolled through the city. Mutilated, King Vikrama writhed in agony, screaming from the pain of his wounds, dying slowly, but the heartless servants of King Chandrasena did nothing to relieve his pain. After taking King Vikrama to a desolate wood and dumping him there, they returned to their king, who asked them, “0 my minions! What is the condition of that burglar? Is he dead yet, or still living?”
The lackeys brayed, “He should be dead very soon. How will he live without feet or hands? He is dying a miserable death in extreme pain, bleeding heavily, and we have stopped everyone from giving him food or drink. He can’t last long now. The paroxysms he feels in the stumps of his hands and feet are causing him to suffer like a fish out of water.” The people of the city of Tamalinda had compassion for King Vikrama, but since King Chandrasena had strictly forbidden anyone to give him food or water, everyone was exceedingly afraid to provide him any assistance, lest they too end up in his pitiable state.
But King Vikrama survived; if he had died, how would Saturn have been able to continue to harass him? After a month passed, the planet Saturn at last felt some compassion for King Vikrama. Saturn then created compassion in the heart of King Chandrasena, who suddenly one day asked his servants, “What condition is that thief in?”
The flunkeys replied, “Great King! He is still alive, but he is in terrible shape. Without any food or drink he is hovering on the point of death.”
The king ordered his men, “For today onwards have mercy on him, and give him food and drink!”
Following the king’s orders, his servants began to provide Vikramaditya with nourishment. The townspeople began to care for him, and served him with food and drink. In only a short time the pain from his hands and feet subsided, and his strength returned. But he was crippled, and to move about without hands and feet caused him great difficulty and great agony.
In this way, two arduous years passed for the wretched King Vikrama, until one day a woman who had been born in Ujjayini and who had returned there to visit her family passed by in a palanquin. She was the daughter-in-law of an oil merchant, returning to her father-in-law’s house in Tamalinda. As she neared the city she spied King Vikrama sitting underneath a tree, and saw that his hands and feet had been severed.
Dumfounded by this sight she stopped the palanquin and rushed over to King Vikrama, saying, “Great King! What has brought you to this pass? How long have you been here?”
King Vikramaditya told her, “0 chasce wife! All of this comes as a result of my previous karmas. It is because my stars have turned in their courses that I have been ravaged. Lord Saturn became angry with me, and put me into this miserable predicament. There is no escape from enduring the consequences of one’s karmas. 0 sister! Is all well in my Ujjayini?”
Tears came to the woman’s eyes as she answered, “Great King! There is great happiness in the city of Ujjayini, but seeing you in this state my heart is greatly stricken. As you say, there is no escape from enjoying the fruits of one’s previous karmas; what was to happen has happened. Now get up and sit in my palanquin, and come with me to my house.” With great difficulty King Vikrama was able to seat himself in the palanquin, and the woman then transported him to the oil pressers home.
Fear gripped the oil merchant as he watched the crippled ruler emerge from the palanquin, and he said to his daughter-in-law, “Daughter-in-law! Why have you brought this trouble into our home? Our king had this thief’s hands and feet chopped off and expelled him from our city, strictly ordering no one to assist him. If you give him refuge in our home our king will loot our household and will imprison us.”
Afrer listening patiently the girl replied soothingly, “0 my father-in-law! Don’t fear. This is King Vikramaditya of Ujjayini, who because of his own ill fortune has fallen into this condition of extreme adversity. He ruled Ujjayini with great righteousness and statesmanship, but because of the adverse position of the planets he has been ruined. He is a wish-fulfilling jewel fallen onto a rubbish heap, and today he has fallen into our hands.”
Hearing this, the oilman was astonished and he offered King Vikramaditya every token of respect. He kept the king in his home and pondered over how to tactfully explain this situation to King Chandrasena.
The next day the oil trader went to the court of King Chandrasena and appealed to him oleaginously: “Great King! Remember that thief who, after having his hands and feet chopped off, you had thrown out of town? Well, I feel sorry for him, so if you give the word I will keep him in my house and feed him.” Chandrasena carefully considered the oilman’s entreaty before giving his assent as requested.
Now fearless, the oil presser returned home, where Vikramaditya told him, “Don’t let anyone know that I am Vikramaditya, and don’t speak about this matter to anyone.” The oilman agreed to this,and said to King Vikrama, “From now on, you should sit always atop my oil press and press out the oil, and I will keep you supplied with food and clothing.”
Vikramaditya, who had been the ruler of Ujjayini until he fell under Saturn’s sway and was brought low, agreed to this proposal and began to sit atop the man’s oil mill all day long, pressing out the oil. See the play of destiny! Day and night the disfigured King Vikrama sat atop the oil mill, driving the oxen on as they turned the mill’s axle, feeling tremendously indebted to the oil trader for the food, clothing, and shelter that was provided to him. In this way five more years passed.
Those who want to know what happened next should now listen with one-pointed attention: As time went by, it became King Vikrama’s wont to daily sing, to pass the time as he herded the oxen in their circular route around the mill. King Vikrama, who was a talented musician, knew all the classical ragas (musical modes), and one day, as he sat atop the mill, he began to sing the Raga Dipaka in a beautiful voice. He sang his heart out until, all of a sudden, the potency of the melody combined with the force of his singing to cause all the lamps in the city to spontaneously ignite.
It so happened that Princess Padmasena, King Chandrasena’s daughter, was standing on the palace’s balcony at the very moment of that ignition, and she marvelled when she saw lamps flare abruptly into life in every house in town, as if it were Dipavali (the Festival of Lights). She asked her servants, “Who has caused all these lamps to be lit in our city today? Today is not Dipavali, and there is no grand marriage or other festival. Go and investigate! Find out who has caused these lamps to blaze.” Just then Vikramaditya completed his rendering of Raga Dipaka, and each and every one of the lamps just as unexpectedly went out.
Then he began the vocal elaboration of the Raga Shri. Hearing this the princess said, “Who is this musical maestro performing anonymously among us? Are any of my servants here? Go find out where that singer is, and hurry!” Obedient to her command, the princess’s maidservants scoured the city until they came to the oil dealer’s house, where they saw, sitting on the oil press, the crippled Vikramaditya with his defective arms and legs, singing masterfully. Seeing him they scurried back to the palace and told the princess, “Do you know that robber whose hands and feet were chopped off and who was thrown out of town by your father more than seven years ago? Well, that invalid is sitting in the oil miller’s house, pressing out the oil and singing that song.”
The princess then told her maidservants, “Go quickly and summon him here.”
One brave serving girl had the temerity to object: “If we bring him here now, the king will be furious with us. Let us first insert this suggestion into the king’s ear, so that he will not take offense when the cripple arrives here.”
The princess retorted: “There is no use whatsoever in inserting anything into my fathers ear. I will inform him later. Now go and invite this artist to the palace, for my mind has become attached to him.” The servant girls ran to the oilpresser’s house and, after taking the oilman’s permission, invited Vikramaditya to visit the princess. He tried to decline the invitation, suspicious that Saturn might not have finished with him yet, but when the girls insisted, he allowed them to escort him to the palace of King Chandrasena.
There he met the princess, who seated him in a seat of honor and said, “You who are a connoisseur of ragas, please sing one of them now, and satiate my ears. Your throat is intensely sweet, and your knowledge of music is total. You must be, in fact, some celestial musician.”
Thereafter King Vikramaditya, in the crippled form created when his feet and hands were severed, spent his days in the princess’s palace at her command, pleasing her mightily by singing for her, in a sweet voice, many different ragas and raginis (female ragas), each appropriate for the time of day or night that he sang them. During the course of these concerts the period of his Seven-and-a-Half came to an end.
Meanwhile, the princess had determined to wed King Vikrama only, if she was to wed, and embarked on a hunger fast for this purpose. Her handmaidens tattled on her to the queen, who sashayed into her daughter’s apartments to enquire the cause of her misery. The princess told her mother, “Ma, I am determined to marry the man who has recently begun singing in my palace. I have chosen him, and I shall marry no other.”
Immensely offended by these foolish words, her mother replied, “Daughter, have you gone insane? Your destiny is to marry some eminent prince. Your station in life is as far from that of limbless wretch as the sky is distant from the earth. Stop all this foolish prattle and be a sensible girl.” But her daughter replied, “I shall not break my vow. This man alone shall be my husband.”
At this the queen began to worry that perhaps the princess’s obsession would not be so easy to lift, and so she proceeded directly to consult with her husband the king, who at that very moment was asking his courtiers, “Why is the princess’s palace filled with beautiful ragas and raginis all day and all night long nowadays? Who is serenading her, and why is the princess listening?”
The courtiers, fearful of their necks should they spill the beans, all folded their hands in front of them and said politely, “Great King! We know nothing about this. When you visit the palace of Princess Padmasena please do verify this yourself. We can say absolutely nothing on the subject of the princess. Please see it with your own eyes, and then do that which you feel is appropriate.”
At this moment his wife stormed into the room and told King Chandrasena all that had passed between her and their daughter.
The king rose at once to his feet and marched directly to his daughter’s palace, where he announced to her, “Daughter! What you have spoken of doing does not reflect favorably on a princess’s dignity. This man is a thief, and was punished with dismemberment at my command. Forget this youthful infatuation, and I shall even today send my messengers to far-off lands to find you an appropriate, capable, handsome prince to be your groom.”
The princess eyed her father coolly and replied, “Father, if you speak to me any more on this matter I shall surely relinquish my life, but I shall not take another husband.” The king examined her closely, and saw that her mind was made up. Filled with anger, he said to her, “If such a fate is written in your destiny, what can I do about it? Who can change the lines of one’s fate?”
Realizing that he had no alternative, he agreed to the match and with a heavy heart returned slowly to his palace, where he lay on his bed in misery. After tossing and turning for what seemed an eternity, he fell into a deep sleep. In a dream he saw King ‘Vikrama whole again.